A crisp in the air, pumpkins on the stoop and apples at the market…sure looks like Fall to me. I suppose you could include those pumpkin flavored coffee drinks loaded with sugar and spices and piled miles high with whipped cream as yet another sign of the season. But a lesser known spirit (here in the States anyway) is a French apple brandy known as Calvados. This lusty libation with its rich and slightly spicy taste of apples will put every other Fall ritual to shame. So pull up a chair, pour yourself a glass of apple brandy and enjoy the chill in the air.
Calvados is an apple brandy that comes from the Normandy region of France. Like Champagne, Calvados is a controlled region…meaning that it can’t be called Calvados if it doesn’t come from one the following areas: Calvados, Manche, Orne départements, parts of Eure, Mayenne, Sarthe, or Eure-et-Loir. (A bit wider area than champagne.)
I was first introduced to Calvados when I went to Paris for my delayed honeymoon (about 100 years ago). I had been reading up on all of the Paris books I could find and kept coming across mention after mention of this apple brandy known as Calvados, in France. When our hotel bar (which looked like it came directly from a Colette novel) had several to choose from, I asked for their recommended pour and was instantly infatuated. Not only could you smell the apple aroma, wafting from the glass, but the subtly spicy flavors of apple and pear were the hallmarks of a fine pastry. Certainly not something I would expect to find poured into a glass of crystal.
Apple brandy (Calvados) is a very flexible libation. It is used as a palate cleanser between multi-course meals, an apéritif (before meals, much like Campari) or as a digestif. I prefer to drink Calvados as a digestif. I find that sitting down with a glass of apple brandy and slowly sipping it works as a great replacement for dessert. It’s not heavy and the spicy fruit flavors make me feel as if I am eating a decadent fruit tart.
Treat yourself to a little decadence and grab a bottle of Calvados. You can find delicious brands at lots of price points, so there’s no need to break the bank on this one. Oh, and it works great added to braised pork and chicken dishes.
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