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Issue 107 - Up the Apples and Pears

Whisky Magazine Issue 107
October 2012


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Up the Apples and Pears

Martine Nouet gets a little autumnal with her food pairings

On a 'dreich' (a wonderful Scottish word for dull, gloomy, wet, dismal, dreary, miserable or all of the above) September day, you can only have autumnal culinary musings.

Forget the salads, seafood platters and strawberry pavlovas, gone are the fruit nectar cocktails and the Mediterranean nibbles. It is time to have a look at a more seasonal fare. Springing up from my memories are flavours from my Norman childhood in the form of a full basket of apples and pears.

Apples and pears, isn't that the Cockney rhyming slang for “up the stairs”? My curiosity could not be content without looking up the phrase.

Those familiar with French literature will know that famous page written by the great author Marcel Proust on 'la Madeleine', a scrumptious buttery cake which he uses as an example to explain the mechanism of olfactory memory. The 'madeleine' of my childhood was an apple, from a variety pertinently called Madeleine because those apples are ripe around the Sainte-Madeleine day.

Mouth melting, with a soft lime green skin and slightly tart aftertaste, it was much better than candies and lollypops. My grandfather's orchard sheltered many more apple varieties, including cider ones.

This probably explains why I often get apple and pear notes in single malts especially the Speyside ones. From the raw and crisp sour Granny Smith to the caramelised Cox Orange, from the ripe floral Williams to the tiny cooking pear (that we call the “minister pears” in France), the range of a...

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