Summer has slipped by. Hints of autumn – creeping nights, cooler breezes, crinklier leaves signal changes.
Tomorrow is my son’s first day at school and my daddy game face will hide sadness at his stubborn refusal to stop growing up so fast. Out there is an educational world gone mad. But hopefully he’ll run and laugh and make friends and go outside in the rain. No doubt he’ll attach bits of junk together, bash a glockenspiel, read great books and write weird stories about underwater creatures and eat hot puddings on cold days. I hope he learns how to stand up for himself and ask questions like: Can you add one to infinity? How about two? How does it help me to be formally tested at the ages of 5 and 10? Why are carrots orange?
Another question I thought about recently: What is it with ripen at home fruit? The last time a supermarket lured me into the things, my thought process went something like this:
‘Oh look at that reasonably priced punnet of plums! I’ll get those because they look alright and I could do with some fruit, five-a-day and all that. When I get home I’ll try one and remember that nothing tears at your tastebuds quite like under-ripe plum. So I’ll leave the rest on the kitchen windowsill and in a couple of days they’ll go a bit softer and taste only marginally better. I’ll eat one or two out of sense of desperate obligation, and all of a sudden it dawns on me that ‘ripen at home’ could actually only be pomologically viable if I somehow reattached each fruit with its mother tree in my own living room. It‘s now plain to see that that cheap punnet of fruit has turned into a living nightmare. As a result I’m almost willing them to spoil so I can hurl them in the bin and move on with my life.’
Perfectly ripe stone fruit on the other hand is a genuine seasonal treat. Peaches, apricots, nectarines, cherries that threaten to trickle juice down your arm as you ease sunshine-packed fragrant flesh cleanly away from the stone. Sweet.
So this is a tribute to that simple Italian classic – peaches in red wine.
I blanched the skin off some nice peaches and placed halves on tinned peach purée sharpened with lemon juice before surrounding with a sea of red wine syrup – Sicilian red reduced down with a glug of balsamic and some sugar. Finally I dolloped on vanilla infused mascarpone and sprinkled over almond cantucci crumbs.
Contrasting temperatures are as important as flavours and textures here. The flesh should be soft and room temperature, the purée and mascarpone refreshingly cold, and the red wine syrup, being the blood of the dish, must be sweet and sticky, warm and plentiful.
Ingredients: peaches, red wine, balsamic, sugar, tinned peaches, lemon, mascarpone, vanilla, cantucci