Tuesday, August 28, 2007

With a Fanfare and Flourish

Last night (Tuesday, whatever date of August) TOH and I ate a stone’s throw from the Pacific, watching some late night impromptu football matches and pelicans swooping around, settling on the creels on the boats lining the bay. A digestivo seemed in order, to savour the setting. About fifteen minutes later my Irish coffee rocked up. Or, rather, what turned up was the equipment necessary for the most elaborate and loving preparation of an Irish coffee I have ever seen.

The waiter first started up a small camphor lamp, and when it was aflame, proceeded to pour whisky into a metal jug, which he then held above the lamp, lighting the alcohol on fire. After burning off the alcohol, he transferred the liquid into a glass, rekindling the flames in order to caramelise the sugar encrusting the top of the glass. More burning of whisky occurred, until there was a serious measure sitting there. Coffee was then poured from on high, before cream was added by a third waiter (there already being a second bloke observing the café master in action). Then a final spoonful of whisky was lit, and lowered into the cream.
All of this stuff might normally take place on the making of an irish coffee, but behind the scenes, but it was strangely and wonderfully done with a flourish, as a ritual, making it not simply a digestif but an occasion. Which, given the setting and general loveliness of the meal, was entirely appropriate.

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