You know those crystallized lilacs or violets that you’ve always wanted to buy and put on a cake but they are so hard to find and expensive and often all broken that you never do? Like those on top of Rose Levy Beranbaum‘s White Lilac Nostalgia Cake, in The Cake Bible. For several years I have admired this cake from afar. I have always wanted to attempt it. But then I take one look at the beautiful crystallized lilacs carefully laid by hand and I freeze…for the reasons above. I suppose you can make these crystallized edible flowers–lilacs, violets and roses. Ms. Beranbaum makes it sound pretty straightforward. But even in my days of more free time, they didn’t seem easy. So I have resigned myself to just admiring the photo in the cookbook.
Tonight, we opened a bottle of Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir to go with Uzi’s impeccably grilled bacon-wrapped pork chops. Yes, my husband is a non-observing Israeli. And yes, this is related to White Lilac Nostalgia. Hang with me for another minute. The Oregon Pinot paired perfectly with the pork, both parts of the pig. That was no surprise. I have yet to meet a pork and Pinot pairing I didn’t like. What surprised me was that this wine was not love at first whiff, as I’d imagined it would be. I wasn’t getting much aroma at all at first. I was worried. Did we buy this bottle under the spell of Oregon wine country tasting room allure? Thankfully, it turns out it just needed a little time. Once the aroma came through, this Domaine Drouhin suddenly took me back to the days of dreaming about baking that beautiful cake with candied lilacs because that what I was getting on the nose–candied lilacs, or maybe candied violets. Later, after sitting open for an hour or two, the aromas evolved into those of soil and earth. I didn’t get a lot of fruit, this is different from some of the more fruit-forward Pinots of California. In fact, it is a different Pinot than most. Lovely smells of…gardening. And nostalgic thoughts of that gorgeous cake that I just may try to conquer now.