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Amanda on July 1st, 2006


High summer has arrived in the Quercy. Little stone villages drowse in the heat, scarlet and pink geraniums foam from every windowsill, dogs pant in the shade and cats prowl through immaculate potagers.
A few days ago several of our local friends were to be seen pillaging the roadside walnut trees, baskets in hand. It was midsummer’s day and midsummer magic was brewing all over Europe. In the Quercy we were collecting green walnuts to indulge in a little brewing of our own. It’s time to concoct this year’s ration of Aperitif de Noix, one of the highly desirable local liqueurs. It’s a devilishly potent brew, consumed with much lip smacking by the older generation and not disdained by the young. There are hundreds of variations on the basic recipe, but all include green walnuts, pricked to make sure there’s no shell, quartered – mind your fingers, they stain – and added to Eau de Vie, sugar and an innumerable selection of spices and other indigenous flavourings. Legend has it that the walnuts must be gathered on this one day and although it may not be true for the many whimsical reasons propounded, it’s certainly true that only a week or so later the shells have started to form and the bitterness that gives the ripe nuts their distinctive flavour has started to strengthen unpalatably. I made my first batch two years ago and find it goes deliciously well with the dried fruits and nuts at Christmas. Read More »

Living in France in High Summer from French Life