Wednesday, July 4, 2012
So speaks a guy named David Quidnunc(Somehow I doubt that's his real name) on a website for Samuel Pepys' Diary. Syllabub started out as a drink and gradually evolved into a dessert. George Washington probably partook of syllabub while lounging on the porch at Mount Vernon at the end of a long day spent supervising his estate. Close readers of Regency novels will remember their heroes and heroines having syllabub as a refreshment on a warm day. Our friend Tim, who sells antiques and came to the Sunday night supper whence this was served, has sold syllabub cups.
I picked it out of the cookbook because it was quick to make. We are moving into the South here. Most of the dessert recipes that are left in New England are unsuited to hot weather, like plum pudding. The only caveat is syllabub requires the purchase of two off the wall wines, Madeira, and cream sherry. Let's take cream sherry first. I like sherry. I learned to drink it in Madrid in the bars in the basement of Plaza Mayor when I was 22. A guy I was hanging around with introduced me to tapas bars, where the bartender first laid out a couple of olives in a small saucer. If you bought another drink and tipped well, he served something more substantial. It actually didn't occur to me that if you wanted tapas you could buy them directly instead of trying to gauge a proper tip.
If one is going to drink sherry, drink it like the Spaniards do, without ice, and dry. That means Amontillado, Fino, or Manzanilla. It doesn't mean cream. And now, I have a cheap bottle of cream sherry cluttering up my bar along with half a dozen other bottles of weird, no-longer-drunk liquor.
Anyhow, Syllabub is a quickly made, elegant-looking dessert. Just don't decide to make it on Sunday afternoon when the liquor stores are closed.
Thinly cut peel (lemon colored part only) of one lemon
1 cup cream sherry
2. Whip the cream until it just begins to hold its shape. Remove the peel and gradually beat into the cream the wine, lemon juice and sugar until thick. Pour into parfait or wine glasses and sprinkle with nutmeg. Serve immediately. Serves eight.