Before I knew better, I used to drink (almost daily…
Pardon me while I wax nostalgic for a few moments about a dear friend named Eddie.
A Magical Year in Edinburgh
I once spent a magical year in Edinburgh. I think often of the wonder and whimsy of that time abroad, especially during this festive season.
Edinburgh is enchanting at the best of times. The Scott Monument, combining the best of the grotesque and sublime in gothic architecture, spirals, in its soot-laden stateliness, at the city centre. And Edinburgh Castle looms large atop a foreboding and craggy cliff, overlooking both Old Town and New Town.
But at Christmas time? It’s no holds barred for Edinburgh. Sprawling across Princes Street Gardens, nestled between Old Town (a curious pre-Enlightenment collection of steep and curvy cobbled roads and former tenement housing) and New Town (a vast, rationalized urban space of everything neoclassical and Georgian), is the annual European Christmas Market, a fairytale splendour. Several colourful wooden storybook-style stalls serve up hand-made goodies, edible and inedible alike.
Memories of Gluhwein
I remember well one slightly larger stall containing two robust and smiling chaps manning a couple of massive copper cauldrons. They stirred and ladled up a liquid that was positively ambrosial with a bewitching burgundy hue. This charmed mixture is called gluhwein, or mulled wine, and is served in small ornate handled mugs.
Gluhwein would be more aptly translated “the loveliest of buzzes” because daaaayum that stuff is dangerously sippable and deceivingly non-alcoholic. It’s a bevvy that warms you to the bones and makes you beam from a place of deep, down contentment.
Today’s recipe for Holiday Mulled Cider comes from my memories of drinking mulled wine in a city I love. The apple cider tempers the cranberry juice just enough so that you still get a teensy bit of the pucker power you would with the gluhwein. The combo of the citrus, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger provides warming notes of both sweet and spicy. But if you prefer to ramp up the sweetness, you can add 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup.
My Dear Friend, Eddie
I get nostalgic for Edinburgh, a.k.a. “Eddie,” almost daily. Eddie watched me grow that year, wrapping his chummy arm around me as I learned some of life’s harder lessons. Eddie relished with me in the bliss of spending an entire year devoted to the study of something we both love: literature (Edinburgh is a UNESCO-designated “City of Literature”). And I know Eddie and I shared a few giddy moments as my hands wrapped around a mug or two of gluhwein that winter.
Today’s recipe for Holiday Mulled Cider is special because it’s all about sharing warm and happy moments with dear friends like Eddie.
Holiday Mulled Cider (AIP, Paleo, SCD)
Serves: 4 cups
- 3 c apple cider juice
- 1 c pure cranberry juice
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 one-inch piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
- 2-3 whole cloves
- 1 two-inch piece of orange rind (avoid the pith, as it causes bitterness)
- 1 two-inch piece of lemon rind (avoid the pith, as it causes bitterness)
- 2-3 tbsp. maple syrup (optional for added sweetness, provided you are not following SCD)
- Place all ingredients in a sauce pan and very gently simmer for 10-15 minutes to infuse flavours. Do not boil.
- Remove from heat; strain and ladle into mugs. Serve warm.