The last day of November is almost done, I've dug out the advent calendar I fell in love with back in October (Angela Harding, very pretty), baked some lebkuchen, and whilst I was at it the first mince pies of the season. The best mince pies in the world are my mothers (best to me at any rate, because a) they're really good, and b) hers being the first I ever had are the benchmark by which all others are judged). It's a most unusual fit of post work enthusiasm.
I was feeling quietly smug about the home made mincemeat earlier until I had a flash back to the first time I tried making it. It was a disaster. I used an Elizabeth David recipe that made kilos of the stuff, it was dry, never ending, and dribbled all over the fridge. Thank god for Fiona Cairns and her altogether more sensible recipe (you will not be eyeing it up at the back of the cupboard for the best part of 5 years before you give in and shamefacedly bin it). Homemade mincemeat is minimal effort (the only bit I find tiresome is chopping the apple) and because it is dryer than shop bought doesn't weld itself to the tin like some sort of red hot superglue (a win).
Despite rarely drinking them, I find liqueurs hard to resist, the more unlikely they are the more appealing they seem. Inevitably it turns out the money would have been better spent on gin which I know I like (in moderation). My bottle of Fratello (like Frangellico, but disappointingly not in a bottle shaped like most of a monk) was bought primarily for cooking but I've had it for a year now and it really needs using up. A good slug of it went in the mincemeat so it seemed reasonable to drink it with a mince pie whilst deciding what the perfect book to finish the scene would be. It tastes like toasted hazelnuts, vanilla, and syrup so it's basically a very acceptable food match.
Book wise it's a bit trickier, Frangellico hasn't really been around that long, though traditional hazelnut liqueurs of some sort must have been. It's tempting to choose Hoffmann's 'The Devil's Elixir' because this isn't really the sort of drink I approve of (to sweet, not gin or whisky) for myself, and then the bottle is shaped like a monk, but it doesn't fit the tone of the book.
Mavis Doriel Hay's 'The Santa Klaus Murder' on the other hand... The British library have just re released this with a smart new jacket to fit in with the rest of the crime classics series. I wrote about it a couple of years ago Here when it first appeared at the begining of the series. Liqueurs like Fratello aren't what I think of as serious drinks, they're fun, designed to go into frivolous cocktails or Nigella style puddings. 'The Santa Klaus Murder' is similarly fun. A puzzle to be solved along with a few hours of escapism into a comfortable 1930's world (murders aside) and who knows, maybe the Melbury's are coffee and liqueur people too.