As an alternative to baking (and, therefore, eating) lots of carbohydrates in this time of self isolation, I have decided to make alcoholic drinks. What could possibly go wrong?
The first is a simple flavouring for wine. My father, Alberico, used to make it at the end of summer.
Every so often during the hazy days of autumn, when the evenings were languid and balmy, we would sit on the balcony at our house in Prospect. My father would smile his conspiratorial smile and disappear into the kitchen.
On a silver tray (I demanded this tray in the distribution of "wealth" on my mother's death), he emerged with four pretty glasses (also part of my inheritance) filled with his splendid peach leaf wine.
Unlike the other more sophisticated beverages which I will share in the fullness of time, this only took twelve days to infuse.
Alberico's Peach Wine
50 young, tender peach leaves
1 bottle of white wine
5 tablespoons brandy
7 tablespoons sugar
1-2 peach stones, optional
Combine all the ingredients in a bottle and shake it up. Set it aside in a dark, cool cupboard for 12 days. It will keep for about 1 year.
This infusion has a glorious, heady taste of liquid marzipan.
My father served it over ice with a slice of white peach. For the children (don't judge - they were different times) he poured in a measure of the wine and topped it with soda and called it un spritz. I have been doing this too, but with Prosecco to the brim.
I have made it with nectarine leaves which gives it the palest of pink blush. Very pretty. I've not tried it with apricots but I might next summer and I will report.
In these days of madness, it does us good to remember a simpler time.