Mother pans for Spanish gold
Deep in the January slough with Christmas and new year done, the days dark, the rain biblical and seemingly endless - there is a gift from our dear Spanish friends. The Sevilles are here! Turning up slowly at first with just the odd box at the more specialist fruiterers at New Spitalfields market,
but now here in large towering heaps, a brief bittersweet glut. A brutal 5am trip on the W15 bus has got me 35kgs of the rough knobbly wonders. Seville oranges, one of the few fruits left that are truly seasonal. And a short season at that, running from early January to the first week in February at the latest. All the way from Andalucia here they are on a cold and wet East London morning - here as they have been each winter since the fifteenth century to fulfill the British passion for marmalade.
And now filling my kitchen and dining room with their heart warming brightness as I knock up this year's batch of Bitter Orange Rum. This week has been spent boiling, zesting and chopping fruit as the house fills up with orange scented steam.
I won't tell you lies about how quick it is to make your own marmalade having stayed up into the small hours awaiting the perfect set myself. But it will taste divine.
As if marmalade and orange liqueurs weren't gifts enough the blossoms of the Seville orange also make orange flower water a key ingredient in the Ramos gin fizz. A delicate and restorative cocktail for these mid winter days. Close your eyes, imagine warm to your bones, imagine flower scented air.
Ramos gin fizz
50 ml Gin
30 ml fresh lemon juice
20 ml Sugar Syrup
20 ml fresh cream
1 egg white
1 barspoon Bitter Truth Orange Flower Water
20 ml Soda Water
Shake all ingredients except soda water vigorously with ice and strain into a highball glass. Top up with soda water and garnish with a slice of orange.