Though today’s prompt was actually “cocktail,” I’ve already drawn one of those and my mind drifted to something a little purer with this simple glass of Cognac. Philippe and I had a glass of this a few years ago when we were in France. What made it so memorable was that it was also just after discovering café gourmand, a brillaint concept of espresso paired with a collection of mini desserts. We were in Amboise, France at the time and so everything seemed just a little more magical. For those unfamiliar with this elixir, it’s essentially a type of brandy in that it’s a distilled wine, but the Cognac label can only be applied to the spirit if it was produced in a specific place – namely, the Cognac region of western France, a couple hundred miles southwest of Paris.
It was a discovery to Philippe as well because the French don’t really drink Cognac and it’s less likely to be enjoyed everywhere. Only about 3% of the Cognac produced is actually consumed in France. They prefer Scotch. The amount of scotch they drink there equals the amount of Cognac they produce for the entire world. So, although it’s not a favorite French drink, it still brings back good memories of France. Of course, we couldn’t afford the very aged version, but even the entry level version, aged just two years, is still graded V.S. which charmingly stands for “very special.” I still remember that particular day in Amboise, so even though it wasn’t the best Cognac available, it definitely qualifies as a very special memory.
Once we returned, we bought a little bottle and had a few sips just to relive the experience. Suddenly though, it just tasted a bit like brandy and failed to possess any of the allure we felt when sipping it while sitting in the Loire Valley. I guess there’s never really a way to bring your vacation home with you. Whether it’s Cognac or seashells, it’s never quite the same as when you were there. But every time I see a bottle, I think about that day and how fabulous each little dessert tasted. How beautiful it all felt to be there at the time, so relaxed, without worrying about anything at all. Had I been able to see the future, I would have realized I was also sitting across from the person I would later marry. But at the time, it was simply enough to be sitting quietly together, enjoying a perfect little moment, with just a little taste of Cognac.