Dinner with la Fée Verte

Following a wonderfully delicious meal of French cuisine, my wife decided on a second Kir Royale for dessert.  The restaurant – a relative new-comer to Capitol Hill tucked into a row house along Massachusetts Avenue – was slowly emptying out.  Old salon music quietly mingled with the few remaining conversations.

I looked around and pondered whether I wanted an after dinner drink.  Candlelight shadows danced on the dark and patterned wallpaper, gently illuminating neatly framed pictures of dancing Parisians dressed in tuxedos and tight red dresses.  I had already enjoyed two glasses of lightly sweet Côtes du Rhône Domaine Ferraton 2007; perhaps I should say no to dessert.

However, my wife is a persuasive woman; when she encourages another round, I’d be a fool to say no.  “Why not try some absinthe, you’ve always wanted to.”  She was right; on our most recent trip to Europe – Prague in early 2009 – I discovered the locals drink becherovka rather than absinthe.  On trips prior – to Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, Amsterdam, even Moscow – I focused more on local beer selections rather than the mysterious green spirit.

So an order for Vieux Carré absinthe (made by Philadelphia Distilling Company, which also produces the fantastic Blue Coat Gin) was placed.  And another Kir Royale, of course.  In short order the waiter returned with hands full.  With complete pomp and circumstance, he carefully lit the sugar cubes atop the thin, slotted spoon, which itself was perched above the translucent yellowish-green liquid.  Tiny drops of water emerged from the slow drip fountain, slowly melting the sugar and turning the drink a milky, cloudy color – the louche.  Per the waiter’s recommendation, I allowed the fountain to fill the glass until there were roughly equal parts water and absinthe, though I may have erred on the side of slightly less water.

Now at this point I could regale you with my hallucinogenic visions, of feelings of flowers growing from my legs, as wrote Oscar Wilde.  Or I could describe the tiny green fairy I saw as I sipped the drink.  But alas, I felt nothing other than the sweet, fragrant taste of the ice cold drink.  Interested, my wife took a minuscule sip and immediately claimed she saw Mr. Hankey floating above my head, which elicited a good chuckle.  The spirit’s psychotropic qualities have a long history of references in both art and literature, much of which was created by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (one of my favorite artists) amidst Parisian bohemian culture during the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries.  Unfortunately the thujone – a component of grande wormwood, one of the ingredients of absinthe – produced no such affects.

No, I was only left with a pleasant, calming, even refreshing drink as my dessert.  I very much enjoyed the preparation experience as well as absinthe’s taste. It was not something to be enjoyed every day; no, like its cousin, pastis (which is enjoyed before the meal), it was a treat to be appreciated only occasionally, when slowly and carefully appreciating fine cuisine, apart from life’s daily responsibilities and repetition.  Absinthe was a unique experience, whether or not I actually dined with the Green Fairy herself.

Published in: on October 22, 2011 at 10:06 am  Comments (1)  
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One Comment

  1. Yo THF!

    Have yet to try this Absinthe stuff. Sounds intriguing. I too have grown to enjoy the after dinner drink in lieu of dessert. Though an after dinner drink WITH dessert is even better.


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