Friday 8 January 2010

Night Flight and Pithiviers


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!


DILLIGAF said...

I am afraid I've put you in my top if that's not the kiss of death I don't know what is...;-)

You know what?

I'd never read ANY poetry before finding Jason's place.

I ain't no expert babe but your's is the business.

Can't explain why...haven't the words but...sadly...your in my Top 5...

oh dear....'d you know about the 'old bean'?....last comp?

laters babe

4D x

Saz said...

as its so cold and snowy here and l have time on my hands..I thank you!! and l shall print off and try this recipe..

Holly said...

Have you any, any, any idea how much I've missed you? Have you? And, I have to say, while I love your 'story', I absolutely sat and for quite a few minutes stared at the artwork...the simplicity and vibrancy of it transported me...well, I don't know where...

I am so glad you are here again.

Eleonora Baldwin said...

Right. It's almost midnight and I HAVE to make Pithiviers now. Och, no puff pastry, damn it!

I will read the poem again and swoon at that instead, my sweet Parisienne friend. It's beautiful.

I wish you all the joy, excitement and happiness of that honeymoon trip all over again.

And thanks for inviting me to join the Short Fiction Contest. I will surely participate!

Ciao muse,
Lola xx

steven said...

tessa my dear would it be huge imposition to ask you to e-mail me one of these!!!! i love the words in "night flight". i flashed back a few months to reading southern mail and night flight by antoine de saint exupery. one of my absolute favourite books.
what a lovely rich post!!! steven

Ces Adorio said...

How mean mean to torture me with the most delectable pithiviers that cannot be realized! Yum Yum!

By the way, you have 251 words on your beautiful poem BUT my dearest Tessa, the painting is absolutely supreme. Very rarely does an image jolt me at first glanve. The minimalist image packs a POWER PUNCH! Oooph Dah! Yowza!!!!

P.s. Just kiding on the 251 number.

Rosaria Williams said...

Oh, love that last line.

What else does one need?

Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...

Love the image and your poem pairing.

How much butter is required in the recipe? They do look rather decadent!

karen said...

Hi Tessa, great to see you back again.. I have of course been away from blogging for quite a few weeks. Those pithiviers look quite stunning, and so decadent. Happy New year greetings to you!!

Herrad said...

Hi Tessa,

Very much enjoyed your poem.
Wish I could eat one of those delicious chocolate pithiviers right now.
Please come by my blog and pick up your awards.

Renee said...

I am so glad you are back and oh how I have missed you.

Love the painting and the story.


Lori ann said...

Yes, you are back. And i hope well?
Oh Tessa, I hope you are the winner of the contest, with your brillant poem and painting, i don't see how you could not. good luck (crossing fingers here).
that is so sweet of you for sharing the recipe, i'll trust your words it's delicious. Trying to get back into shape after months off!
take good care okay?

Val said...

oooh i am drooling! those pastries sound heavenly :-) and i love the poem. would like to give the story a try too! lovely Tessa - and i hope all is well with you? x

L'Adelaide said...

lord, i have gone from mac&cheese to brownies to THIS--(blog hop sunday)! the painting, so magnificent, and the photo of something i could practically eat through the screen let alone a doable recipe of food i am not to, just stop that, you hear me??

this amazing prose or poetry, i am not sure which is which just now, is simply have the most amazing talent and of course, you do know that, right? i was whisked away into the sky and able to see the earth from a vantage i have never wonderful♥

L'Adelaide said...

i don't feel i gave a full interpretation of my feelings about the painting...i was stunned by it's simplicity and how that simple change in color and the abstract shape became exactly what it is gorgeous, especially the color of the blue with that worthy of eating always, your work is visually delicious but something about this -- it's spareness-- just grabbed me by the back of the neck!

hope i made me well, my dear.

Carol said...

OMG....How am I supposed to stick to any kind of diet with you posting recipies like that? (Thank you...the diet doesnt start till next week so I shall be making these at the weekend :-D)

Happy New Year honey

C x

(PS. Sorry I've not been around much....Uni is kind of taking over my life at the moment!!)

Tessa said...

Sorry not to have responded earlier to all your wondeful comments, but we've been snow-bound in splendid isolation up here without any broadband service for a few days now!

Four Dinners: Thanks so much for your visit - great to see you here! I'm chuffed to bits, old bean, that you consider my poem to be worth enough to put on your top five - thank you! You're a pretty good scribe yourself, so I'm hugely pleased. Many thanks, dear chap.

FFF: I'll bet you're not...fat or frumpy! Those little choccie delights are just the answer for this frigid weather...and very easy to make. Enjoy - and thanks for stopping by.

Holly: You ANGEL! Thank you for the lovely, heartwarming welcome back to the wonderful world of blogging. I can't begin to tell you how much I've missed each and every one of you very special people. Life is slowly returning to normal...well, a snow-bound England normal which is probably not what most people would consider to be remotely commonplace. They do very well in the rain, but snow brings most things to a grinding halt here!

Lola: My darling Queen of Cuisine - I bet you could make your own puff pastry most perfectly! Oooh, I do hope you have time to enter the contest - I will be waiting with bated breath to see your name up there in lights!

Steven: I'm beyond thrilled that you like my poem - coming from you that is accolade indeed. Your writing is poetry personified. Now that we have broadband back, I shall email it to you pronto!

Ces: Gawd! You made me go back and do another word count, you impish creature you! Wow, you like the painting - now that really has made my day. Merci buckets and buckets!!

Lakeviewer: I keep looking for your name on the list of entries over at Clarity of Night...where are you?! Yes, a honey-bathed dawn is all one ever needs to make a day perfect.

Bonnie: Whoops - thank you SO much for bringing that to my attention - I can't believe I was silly enough to have left out the butter measurement. A decadent Pithivier is nothing without butter - that's for sure! Hugs across the ocean to you, dearest friend.

Karen: How wonderful to see you - I can't wait to zip over to Botswana via the wonders of the Internet to read what new adventures you've been having! Happiest of happy new years to you too - I wonder if my calendar has arrived safely yet?

Herrad: Wow! Awards? How exciting - I'll be over with you in an instant! Thank you very much for thinking of me - you are an absolute honey. xx

Renee: Sending huge flurries of love across that sky we share, darling girl. Be over at your place a bit later today - as long as British Telecom can keep my Internet going...

Lori: Our special golden Lori - oh, I've missed you SO much. I'm so pleased that you are back at work because that means you must be feeling better...what a truly horrid time you had. I hope you are able to get back to your life affirming jogs alongs the beach and your hikes up into your beautiful mountains. Sending you bucketsful of love and happiness.

Val: Oooh, I do hope you enter the contest! You write like a dream - your imagery is always absolutely superb and brings every single thing you write about to life. I will look out for you entry, along with Lakeviewer's and Lola's!

Linda: You do make me POP with pride - thank you so very much for saying such glowingly wonderful things about both the poem and the painting. I am sincerely thrilled and enormously flattered that you find something in each which pleases you. Big hugs across the pond from me!

Carol: It's great to see you - thanks so much for stopping by! Happy, happy New Year to you, too. I hope it is filled to the brim with good things - and that Uni is a HUGE success! I'm rooting for you, girl!

Madame DeFarge said...

Wonderful words and lovely to have you back with us.

A Cuban In London said...

But I thought you were taking a sabbatical? :-) You couldn't resist it, could you?

And neither could I, if my arsenal was made up of poems like yours. It deserved to be pushed out, evicted, ejaculated like a long-range missile. Welcome back, I've missed your posts.

Greetings from a very, very cold London.

Renee said...

No forgiveness needed dear heart. I know exactly, the reasons don't matter but they to are important and take up our time. I think of you in the night stars too.

Mom now has confiscated your calendar and the picture of the elegant lady and neck. It is on her wall and the calendar is on her desk.

She always tells me to give you a kiss and I never do, so here is her kiss.

I love you darling.

Renee xoxo

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Tessa, I adored your poem! So gorgeous.
And thank you for alerting me to the competition. Your encouragement means so much. It was truly an enjoyable exercise and I'd never done it without you.

Unknown said...

You have a great blog here. I like checking out travel blogs much like yours at times. I have a blog myself which I hope will be a great resource for those looking to go on vacation. I want everyone to get that "vacation feeling" every time they come to my site. You know what I'm talking about.

I'd like to exchange links with you to help spread some traffic around between each other. Please let me know if this is possible. Until then, keep up the good work.


Ces Adorio said...

Good morning my Beautiful African Adventurer! I just came here to say hello. I am sorry, I did not mean for you to count again, yes I did, I was teasing you! Anyway, I want you to know that I think of you everyday, and I know that you English are so stoic and so private but I wish you well and I hope you are well and you are in my prayers. ♥♥♥

Beth Kephart said...

You continue to produce some of the most gorgeous, uplifting posts.