Seville Oranges: Vin d'Orange
One of the first home infused aperetifs I experienced in France was Vin d'Orange. My mother-in-law Brigitte does it every year, as did her mother. Where they live, Seville oranges, otherwise known as bitter oranges, grow in a whole lot of people's gardens and the fruit gets passed from hand to hand, distributed out from one person to another throughout the month of January and February. Certain towns in the Var have them growing in the streets. A lot of grocery stores in the cities have them when they come into season, and they turn up at the market as well.
You can ask just about any French person you know if someone in their family does Vin d'Orange, and almost invariably the answer comes back yes. You won't normally find this apéro for sale, people just give bottles of it to each other. The apérétif is strained into bottles after only one month of maceration time. It lasts a really long time, but we usually use up our bottle within a few months after Brigitte gives it to us.
I had been married to Loic for about 2 1/2 years when Brigitte opened up her kitchen notebook to me. She was cooking dinner and I was looking for something to do. I settled in at the kitchen table and began translating my favorites from her own handwritten book. We had a glass of wine together and talked, and I asked questions about this or that recipe. I have since passed this particular recipe on and continue to get letters and notes of thanks from as far away as San Fransisco for it. It originates from Mireille Durandeau of Toulon in the Var, with a few notes from her daughter Brigitte.
My notes on this recipe:
- A kilo of Seville oranges is about 6 or 7 oranges.
- If you don't have eau de vie, you can use any good vodka or anything with 40% alcohol or 80 proof. 1/2 liter is about 2 cups. Remember that this is a simple recipe so try and use something neutral.
- If you don't want to break out the grinder or cringe at the thought of cleaning it, give it a few pulses in the food processor. That's what I do.
- Since Brigitte gets her wine from the co-op at St. Cecile de Vignes, she measures out 2 liters exactly, but for those of us who buy our wine in bottles, you have to use 3 bottles of wine, minus 2 glasses. That means open 3 bottles, pour one glass for yourself and someone else, and use the rest of the wine.
- Use granulated sugar. 750 grams is equal to about 3 1/3 cups.
I post this recipe as an idea for this talented card designer and blogger who shares with us the story of her quest for the Seville orange (her holy grail of the moment) in Vancouver, wherein she finally finds some.