Sunday, August 5, 2007

black cat wine

The blackberries have arrived. Or are arriving, depending on where you live in this place of mountains and valleys. When the blackberries come, we make another liquer. In July, Caleb makes his nocino, and in August I make vino gattamora, or what we loosely call black cat wine. Usually, I mix a dark concoction of black currants and blackberries. Our currant bushes thrived this year, yielding more fruit than ever before. Sadly, for us, I decided to pick too late. This morning, they were gone. The birds must have had a black currant festival, or surelythe brood of turkeys living in our meadow this summer ate their fair share. So, we are left with only blackberries, a curse we're happy to carry.

While Caleb's nocino sits in front of the French doors in the sun for another two weeks before straining, the vino gattamora is relegated to the pantry to stay somewhere dark. A dark cure for a dark brew. Mason jars of Italian brandy, hearty stuff like Stock 84, are filled with the blackberries from our hedges and from pint baskets gathered by friends. The fruit suspends, then sinks with the weight of its own drunkeness. I add vanilla bean from Madagascar, and lavender from our garden for a touch of exotica. Now, we wait for the requisite 40 days before straining and cutting with simple syrup to taste.

We like the blackberries in other guises as well. At the restaurant, we serve them with fresh whipped cream and lavender merengue, or as a cocktail, a few black fruits sitting at the bottom of a glass of prosecco accented with fresh mint.

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