Writer extraordinaire Jason Evans of The Clarity of Night is hosting another of those imagination enhancing Short Fiction Contests – this time the prompt is “Silhouette”. The limit is 250 words and any genre or form is welcome so long as it is inspired by the "Silhouette" photo on his blog. The deadline is January 13th so there is still lots of time. Go on – give it a bash! Here is my entry……
I fly intransigent
From a past ephemeral day
On a night flight to Paris.
Amongst the starry cosmos
We jet toward the Borealis.
And beneath lie fluid landscapes,
Crests, valleys and nipple hills.
A wild wasted wilderness, the sands
Of that desolate Eastern Erg
Emerging gold against the dawn.
Volcanic plugs pierce crystalline rock
Sand fingers, petrified trunks,
Still dark against the dawn.
Mysterious unfinished places,
In this strange Garden of Allah
With the blue cloaked Tuareg
And the wild colocynth melons
Ripening in coarse tangled leaves.
Bleached bones lie strewn jagged,
A necklace turned to dust.
I ask what traveller, voyager
Pilgrim, migrant, fortune hunter, pioneer
Roamed these Dali-esque dunescapes.
What Mozabite, Bedouin, Berber
Trod these crescent paths,
These seifs, this moonscape?
As camel caravans sail silently
‘Cross ochre seas to Agadez.
And vultures soar on thermals
Satanic black against the dawn.
Here, high above the banded altostratus
Ensconced in airless droning comfort
And safe from stinging sand
I know that my salvation lies
In edifice of structure, those monuments
To history, those bricks of occidental culture.
But I will miss the lonely splendour of
Desert, sea and mountain spaces
Now honey bathed against the dawn
On this night flight to Paris.
And to lighten the mood after that rather melancholy ramble, let me tell you about the first time I laid greedy eyes on a Pithivier!
You know that yucky feeling of airlessness and eye-stinging droopy tiredness after a long haul night flight? You do? Me too! I remember my first visit to Paris – on our honeymoon, many eons ago – sitting at a pavement cafe in Montmartre blurry-eyed and limp with the aftermath of excited anticipation while a waiter listened impatiently to Guy ordering coffee and pastries in his best school French. Oh, it was a magical moment when our surly waiter brought us large steaming cups of darkly aromatic coffee and warm, sinfully chocolaty oven-fresh Pithiviers. We devoured the delicious pastries, drank our coffee…and took off at breakneck speed to explore the delights of one of the most romantic capitals in the entire world!
So if you need a short, sharp shot of energy in the most yumtious way possible, here is my take on those heavenly delights.
Mini Chocolate Hazelnut Pithiviers
- 50g roughly chopped dark chocolate
- 100g hazelnuts roughly chopped
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 3 egg yolks, 1 whisked with 1 tbsp water to glaze
- 25g butter, melted
- 1 tbsp dark rum
- 2 x 375g ready-rolled puff pastry
Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. To make the filling, whizz the chocolate, hazelnuts, sugar and cocoa powder together in a food processor until you have a fine crumb mixture. Add the butter, eggs and rum and whizz a bit more to make a paste.
Cut 8 circles from the pastry about 3½ 2diameter (cut around a small bowl or plate). Divide the chocolate paste between 4 of the circles, heaping it into the middles and leaving a 1cm border around the edges. Brush the pastry borders with the whisked egg yolk, then drape the other 4 circles over the tops, smoothing them down over the filling. Press and crimp the edges to seal, score the tops lightly in a spiral pattern with a knife, and brush all over with the remaining whisked egg yolk. Chill for 10 minutes, then bake for 20-25 minutes until puffed and golden.
**When they come out of the oven, have someone there to catch you when you swoon!