Sunday, 15 December 2013

A Random Cupboard And An Arbitrary Aperitif

This month Dom of Belleau Kitchen has dared us to reveal the contents of our larders or ingredients cupboards for his Random Recipe challenge.  I'd like to say that I have all my ingredients carefully and neatly stored in one location but actually they're scattered all over the place. I decided that the cupboard with the bottles and jars (and a few other things) was a decent candidate for a quick snap.
Cupboard
This challenge has forced me to look carefully at the contents (not something I do too often) and I'm surprised by how much the ingredients have changed from, say, twenty years ago. For instance, I seem to have developed a bit of a vinegar obsession. Twenty years ago, I might have had 3 or 4 different vinegars. It might not be obvious from the picture, but there are 14 different vinegars in that cupboard.

Then there are other things that I didn't use at all twenty years ago that have become essential cupboard ingredients. Top of that list is pomegranate molasses. I first bought a bottle in a Lebanese grocery shop in London in the 1990s and I had no idea what I was going to do with it. These days I get agitated if I don’t have at least one spare bottle in the cupboard. When anyone extols the virtues to me of living deep in the countryside, I can’t help thinking, “The peace and quiet and beautiful surroundings are all very well, but how far do you have to go to buy pomegranate molasses?”
Pomegranate Molasses 1
The other thing that really struck me was how many bottles of booze have made their way into the kitchen from the official booze cabinet. This is partly because I've used them in cooking and can't be bothered to put them back and partly because of a bit of a weakness for the kitchen aperitif. Nothing gives me a more relaxed and happy feeling than a little apero as I look forward to a satisfying meal. A kir, a small glass of Banyuls, pommeau or pineau will usually make my day. (I'm not absolutely sure why or how there’s a bottle of Latvian Black Balsam in the cupboard but I’ll get around to using it sooner or later.)
Floc
I need a bracing aperitif after all that cupboard rumination and I've randomly (more or less) chosen a glass of floc de Gascogne. Floc is a combination of armagnac and grape juice from the south west of France and can be either rosé (actually quite a red shade of rosé at times) or white. It should be served chilled (though not too chilled), and will go down very well in an English kitchen on a winter's evening. It's probably even better sipped as the summer sun goes down on the Gers countryside, the distant Pyrénées fade into the darkening sky and the farmer wends his weary way home from his fields of maize, no doubt wondering just how far he’ll have to go to get his hands on a decent bottle of pomegranate molasses.

20 comments:

  1. I don't think I have 14 vinegars but I do have quite a few, must have a go through my cupboard and sort it out when you get home :-) Since moving to the Charente we have taken a fancy to Pineau. We are lucky that we have a neighbour who buys it in bulk so we can buy from him and bottle ourselves :-)) Wishing you a wonderful 2014 and a great Christmas. Diane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You might be surprised by how many vinegars you have. I think they breed. I wish my neighbour had some pineau in bulk. Have a fine Christmas.

      Delete
  2. LOVE a cupboard full of little bottles of undrinkable and unnamable booze! Thank you so much for taking part this month, gorgeous to have you on board, you didn't disappoint!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It may not be undrinkable - I'll let you know as soon as I get thirsty enough.

      Delete
  3. Marvellous!
    We also have many different types of vinegar. Twenty years ago I would probably have had only two bottles, one to put on my fish and chips and one bottle of the new fangled balsamic stuff which I felt I should have but didn't really know why!

    ReplyDelete
  4. oh I like this cupboard (pushes aside the vinegar to get to the booze) I haven't even heard of some of these drinks, let alone tried them. Pomegranate Molasses has been on my wish list for a while but I live even deeper in the countryside than you and just haven't got round to getting any!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You really should try pomegranate molasses, it's definitely one of life's little pleasures - I think it might be addictive.

      Delete
  5. What a great cupboard. I agree about the vinegars - I have many sorts too. Love Pineau, but it's so expensive in the UK. Haven't tried pomegranate molasses, so maybe it should be on my wishlist!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Looks like a flipping good selection of contents to me Phil!

    ReplyDelete
  7. There is plenty of inspirations here for festive fun, thanks for that. My best wishes to you for Christmas and New Year; it's been such a pleasure following your delicious blog:) Ozlem

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many thanks for your kind wishes and many thanks too for the fine recipes and inspiration from your blog. Have an excellent holiday season.

      Delete
  8. YOU, my friend are an education in itself! Yes! I noticed scads of vinegars, but wondered about that Pommeau (apple water? apple brandy?) what?) Nothing like a relaxing sip while cooking!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26bzye4kbJI

    ReplyDelete
  9. You're too kind. I feel sure that to educate you need to know something useful in the first place and I'm not sure that I do. Just to be clear, though, pommeau is a reminder of happy days (and nights) in Normandy and is made from apple juice and calvados. It's a very fine apero even if you're not in Normandy.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow - there's some intriguing drinks there. I know of pomegranate molasses but wouldn't know what to do with it at all - what do you use it for?
    There was me thinking that our 7 vinegars was pretty good,... :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use the lovely PM in slow-cooked meat dishes (it works with lamb, pork, duck, pigeon etc) and with veg (sweet potato, aubergine and squash are particularly good but it's also excellent with red cabbage). It works in marinades, glazes, salad dressings, dips, meatballs and couscous dishes. You can use it in drinks (although summer drinks are best) and I use it in desserts too. It works in or with ice creams, soft fruits and rice puddings.

      Delete
  11. Right, OK I am convinced about the pomegranate molasses now. Please - recommend me a recipe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's hard to pick one, but there's a very delicious dip called Muhammara and, since Mr Ottolenghi has done so much to promote PM in this country, I think I should recommend his recipe -
      http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jul/19/kashk-kishk-recipes-yotam-ottolenghi
      My friend Ozlem has many fine recipes using PM over at -
      http://ozlemsturkishtable.com/
      Or, if you can put up with something much more trashy, there's my squash and sausage couscous -
      http://asstrongassoup.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/squash-and-sausage-couscous.html

      Delete
  12. 14 vinegars - wow! I think er I have 3. Nope actually 4, I forgot the raspberry vinegar. Must use that more!! I am loving everyone's cupboards, yours are full but very neat looking!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm really happy that you think my cupboard looks neat - I think the camera might lie. I must admit that many of the vinegars are homemade fruit and herb vinegars - I'm not a fanatic vinegar collector, honest. Well, maybe I am a bit.

      Delete
  13. Your cupboard is exceptionally tidy, with an excellent alcohol to other goods ratio. Though I am going to have to google 'Latvian Black Balsam', it sounds like it's been taken from the first line of a Personals ad. I absolutely love pineau - it was my post-work apero of choice when our local was a tiny pub in Hampstead. I'd chosen it randomly from the drinks list one day and didn't know anything about it. Several years later, while wending our way through France, we ended up spending a couple of weeks in the Charente and I had an epiphany: this was the home of it!

    ReplyDelete