The Literate Chef

Midnight (and Calvados) in Paris

In General Articles on July 6, 2011 at 3:07 PM

It wasn’t until 1991, on my first visit to Paris, that I tasted Calvados. I had read about the famous apple brandy from Normandy in Hemingway’s books and had seen it being drunk by characters in the French films to which I was addicted in the 1950s and 60s. But I never had the occasion to order it, until actually sitting in a Parisian café in Montmartre, where it was the natural thing to do.

Montmartre, December 2, 2005

I had it again on subsequent visits to France, in 1992 when we visited our older daughter who was doing a semester abroad in Aix en Provence, where I sipped it watching the pedestrian parade along the Cours Mirabeau and again in 1999, on a trip to the Languedoc-Roussillon region and the Canal du Midi. The most recent occasion had been in 2005 in Paris where we celebrated our wedding anniversary. That time I brought a bottle of it back home with me. That bottle had been sitting unopened on my liquor shelf ever since, that is until last week.

Recently my wife and I saw the latest Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris and, as was the case with the French films of the 50s and 60s, the characters were drinking Calvados. That’s when it hit me that I still had that imported bottle of Calvados, and it might be interesting to use it for cooking. So I began thinking…what goes well with apples, the essence of Calvados? Pork immediately came to mind, pork chops or roast pork is usually accompanied by applesauce, so voilà, pork chops and Calvados!

Okay, well then maybe I should also add apples to give the dish some substance, that way I can skip the side dish of applesauce. Next, I thought, caramelized apples would make it even sweeter. My wife joined the production by suggesting that I add raisins as well, since they frequently appear as a sweetener in gravy for baked ham.

This was beginning to come together; all it needed now was some herbs to further enhance the dish.  That part was easy, sage and rosemary each have a natural affinity to pork, thus, emerged my plan. Now it was just a matter of executing that plan and putting it all together.

I hope that you enjoy the result, Pork Chops Braised in Calvados, Caramelized Apples and Raisins, we certainly did! One of our readers recently asked for some fish recipes. Lest I be accused of having ichthyophobia please continue reading at: Fish is not Just for Fridays, Anymore.

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