Thursday 10 June 2010

Brandy is Dandy


( and a fork in the pork)

The last time I felt this grim was 3 years ago on a luxury cruise ship, when having gotten WAY too friendly with a bottle of Bombay Sapphire, my husband allowed me to call the Duty Nurse, before being astutely observant... 'So I assume a Christmas shag is out of the question?' . Er, well yes..
This time, remembering what the Duty Nurse had given me last time, I helped myself to Max's Phenergan, as prescribed by his vet. Worked a treat. That and the freshly squeezed orange juice left on my bedside table this morning, by Jacques before he went to work a 12hour shift, has ensured that This Day of the Vuvuzelas has been pain and annoyance free.
And well worth the fun we had last night.

The reason for this over-indulgence is Clare (yes I meant to write Clare and not clear). She's the feisty editor of the successful and very informative website Spill and the one who invited us to a brandy and sausage tasting and pairing at their home. Distell's Alchemy of Gold showcased 5 of their brandies paired with the most amazing charcuterie...(I'm going to find out more about the sausage man and blog about him at a later date), the most memorable being the Toulouse au poivre - absolutely sensational... and the advice his mother had given him 'Buy one good sausage instead of two bad ones'. Excellent advice. And as for the pairing; the smokiness and fattiness of the meats were the perfect accompaniment to the brandy.
For more detailed brandy notes look out for them on Spill, but my thoughts for what they're worth:
Flight of the Fish Eagle, despite it's whisky-like packaging and cumbersome name is actually a fine, pale gold, easy drinking brandy - all honey and grassy flavours and, if I were to be disloyal to my usual summer tipple, could prove to be very nice on ice or in exotic cocktails. Proving that packaging isn't always everything.
Van Ryn's 12 Year Old Distillers Reserve was a complex velvety amber coloured brandy which reminded me of the French Cognac's I had occasionally enjoyed while freeloading on the Queen Mary 2 when Jacques was a Senior officer working on her. The bottle (heavy ) and labeling ( more serious) is something that would not hesitate to haul out of your elegant drinks cabinet. And having reached a certain age, one should have a drinks cabinet. Ours is a high gloss purple lacquer art deco one. Sadly still relatively empty, but it does have a bottle of French Hennessy given to us by traveling friends. I wish I'd known enough then to introduce them to some of South Africa's brandies. We could have offered them the full-bodied Klipdrift Gold with it's hints of chocolate and tobacco. Perhaps even a summer fix of Klippies & Coke, which since one can buy it readily bottled these days seems to have gone up in everyone's estimation as a retro cool Jack Parow sort of thing.
The tasting last night reminded once again, how we should should not allow ourselves to be conned into thinking that all things foreign are superior to what we have in South Africa. The charcuterie was as exciting, if not more, to many of the cured meats I have eaten in foreign ports. And I have always been annoyed by South Africans who profess to drink only French Champagne. South Africa produces some of the finest sparkling wines in the world. And if it's good enough for President Barack Obama, it sure as hell is good enough for me. And the same goes for our brandies. In a blind tasting, I sure wouldn't know the difference, much less pick out the French ones. So since I am not an expert, and I just want something to drink beside a hot fire on a cold winter's night, you'll find me drinking local.
Happily. Frugally. Proudly.

Clearly, mine are not the notes of a connoisseur. I just like a drink every now and then. To find out more about these and other brandies visit Alchemy of Gold

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