Friday, December 7, 2018

Black Sea Dispatches and Recipes with a Potemkin

Caroline Eden's 'Black Sea Dispatches and Recipes' is a thing of beauty, it's cover shimmers, and its black edged pages are surely the book equivalent of a little black dress, or a particularly well cut dinner jacket. The contents more than live up to the promise of the cover.

You will find 'Black Sea' in the cookery section of all good bookshops, and there are recipes running all the way through it, but I don't think it's primarily a cookbook. The food is there to give colour and flavour to the stories and experiences Eden is relating. It's a book she means you to read cover to cover, though the essays will stand alone, and you should do what she wants because she's an excellent travel writer and guide.

I've had this book for weeks now and am slowly, happily, working my way through it. There is nothing I don't love about it, and if I didn't already have it there's no book I'd rather have found under the tree on Christmas Day. There's a few people I will be buying it for too.

The Potemkin Cocktail is one of several in the book with the idea of conjuring up a taste or mood of the region under discussion rather than being some ancient recipe. I particularly like this one for the way it evokes a mood with element simplicity.

It's a twist on The Fireside cocktail, I tried making a few versions of the Fireside after trying the Potemkin, the Potemkin is much better. You need some fine salt, a couple of crushed ice cubes, 40 mls of vodka, 50mls freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (pink is best) and a sprig of Rosemary per person.

Squeeze the grapefruit, and then dip a tall, chilled glass into the shell of it, before salting the rim of the glass. Add the ice, pour the vodka in, top up with the grapefruit juice, and then take the Rosemary sprig and run a long lighted match along it to boost the aroma, stick it in the glass. Salty, fresh, and an earthy hint of forest from the rosemary - it's the perfect drink for the book, or for a general aperitif.

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