The honey's sweet, and so are you.
Thou are my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou'd be you.
Violet and blackberry, the colors of love.
Ah, romance! Fluttering hearts and breathy sighs, knowing glances and fingertips brushing quickly against the other’s, barely touching. Flushed cheeks and lowered eyes, we feel the electricity even when no words are spoken.
We express our love, our passion, in so many ways, by so many signs. Smooth silk sliding down over hips, swishing against her legs as she moves. Jewels in velvet boxes pushed silently across white tablecloths, golden champagne flowing into long-stemmed glasses with a gentle sigh, the bubbles frothing up and over the rim. Boxes of chocolates all tied up in shiny ribbon, bouquets of roses wrapped up in crisp white tissue paper, red for passion, white for innocence and love. Fistfuls of tiny violets, their perfume heady and sweet, their color the color of love.
My husband wines and dines me, prepares me tagines and daubes, buys me jewelry and fine Italian shoes and whisks me off on romantic weekends, gastronomic soirées. The flowers he fills my arms with are never the ordinary, the expected, rather they are blood red dahlias, lush, fragrant peonies in oh so many shades of pink and deep purple tulips, plump and mysterious, the color of aubergines. Platefuls of oysters (I am his pearl) and bowlfuls of delicate, aromatic clams, sunny lunches and cozy dinners, my man knows how to please me, knows just what makes this woman smile. The way to a man’s heart, they say, is through his stomach. This man knows that food means more to me than almost anything else.
And I, in turn, express my love and desire by offerings of sweet and savory. Candles lit, table dressed, dainty morsels set before him, sweet ambrosia. I offer him the choicest morsel, he slides his fork between his lips and I wait expectantly, breath held, for his reaction, a murmur of bliss, a groan of pleasure. His delight transports me to a better place, joyful rapture. I glance at him starry-eyed, thrilled with his enjoyment, the gusto with which he eats, a spoonful, a slice, this is how I offer myself to those I love, the best I have to offer.
Panna Cotta is a favorite treat, his guilty pleasure. Creamy and rich, smooth as silk, sensuous as it shimmers on the spoon and slides over the tongue. As delicate as an angel’s touch, as light as air, Panna Cotta warm’s his heart as sure as my hand placed on his cheek. Knowing just how much he loved it I stayed away from this luxurious, elegant dessert for years, afraid of not living up to expectations. On any restaurant menu, he was sure to order it, the satisfaction wavering with the quality of what was placed before him; sometimes rubbery, sometimes floury, not often pleasing. His most recent disappointment made me realize that it was up to me to create for him the best, the most exquisite Panna Cotta, a sure sign of what I was willing to give of myself. For each perfect bouquet of flowers he ever placed in my arms, for every jewel he slid onto one of my fingers, this gift was for him. Romance in a slender glass, the color of faded roses or pale pink champagne, the scent, the taste of sweet sugar-kissed violets, a jewel-dark blackberry coulis adding depth and richness, the full flavor of the fruit bringing out the best of the Panna Cotta, like a fur wrap draped over a delicate satin gown.
Placing the spoon next to the empty glass, he smiles and takes me in his arms.
VIOLET PANNA COTTA WITH BLACKBERRY COULIS
3 cups (750 ml) cream, or a combination of cream, light cream/half-and-half and whole milk*
2 tsps (1 package, 1/4 ounce, about 8 g) unflavored gelatin
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar, 1 tsp replaced with 1 tsp violet sugar
* I used 1 cup (250 ml) each heavy cream, light cream and whole milk
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, place 1 cup (250 ml) of the cream mixture and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Turn on heat to low and allow to gently heat and cook for a couple of minutes until the gelatin dissolves completely.
Stir the teaspoon of violet sugar into the white sugar (from which you have removed 1 teaspoon). Add the remaining cream mixture and the sugar blend to gelatin mixture and continue to heat gently, just until sugar dissolves; add vanilla. This should take a few minutes. Allow to heat thoroughly.
Carefully pour the mixture into glasses or small bowls and chill for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
Serve chilled with Blackberry Coulis spooned over the top. Decorate with berries.
9 oz (250 g) fresh blackberries
2 tsps sugar
Clean and pick over the berries. Remove and set aside the prettiest, most perfect berries, less than half of them.
Purée the remaining blackberries then push them through a sieve to remove the solids, leaving you only the pure liquid. To the liquid, add the 2 teaspoons sugar and stir until dissolved.
It was upon a summer's shiny day,
When Titan fair his beams did display,
In a fresh fountain, far from all men's view,
She bathed her breast, the boiling heat to allay;
She bathed with roses red, and violets blue,
And all the sweetest flowers, that in the forest grew.