"I'm not really a fan of baked cheesecakes, if I'm being honest."
Mr Flavour and I have been in each other's pockets for 17 years. He's repeated this refrain at least once a year, and yet I have never made anything other than baked cheesecakes.
“I’m not really a fan of baked cheesecakes, if I’m being honest.”
Mr Flavour and I have been in each other’s pockets for 17 years. He’s repeated this refrain at least once a year, and yet I have never made anything other than baked cheesecakes.
He eats them because he loves me, but really all he wants is a light, fluffy cheesecake with a crispy base.
A couple of months ago I decided maybe I should have a go at making him this much-lusted for cheesecake. I secretly hoped he would hate it so I could go back to the baked variety once more, but unfortunately it’s flipping delicious.
If you are lucky and you live near a boggy, peaty place you will probably have bilberries growing nearby as this the kind of soil they thrive in. Somewhere between a blackberry, blueberry and inky blackberry I only discovered this wild berry earlier on this year when we met a 77 year old man on a walk up a hill one day. They are also what finally sparked the inspiration to make this darned cheesecake for himself!
Bilberries may still be just about fruiting, but act fast. Ideally they are ready to pick from the end of July to the end of August. What is left after that depends on your fellow foragers and the birds.
One Sunday morning, Mr Flavour and I set off on one of our favourite walks. It was muggy, a little hazy but clear enough to know that once we reached the top, the views would be magnificent. It was a walk for the soul. We had just received the news that Mr Flavour’s uncle had finally lost his battle with lung cancer and had passed away. A nicer man you could never had met, all wide smiles, neat white hair, balding on top and perfectly pressed slacks. Mr Flavour spent much of his childhood summers hanging out with his cousins at their house. He felt the loss keenly, but as all men do they try to front it out. So off to the top of a hill we hiked.
About half way up, we were startled by the site of an elderly man, with white hair, balding on top and dressed in neatly pressed slacks, a short sleeved shirt and polished shoes. He was waist high in a thicket of shrubbery picking berries. “Have you had your breakfast yet?” he asked us. We had, but I was intrigued. “What are you eating there?” I asked. “I think their called Mulberries, they’re sweet – here, try one.”
If my own mother was stood there with us at that point, she’d be horrified. After all the time she’d spent about not talking to and accepting sweets from strangers, here we were doing both without a care in the world.
The mulberries turned out to be bilberries with thanks to some of my eagle-eyed friends on Facebook informing me of my error. We dined heartily with this white-haired man on the berries, and then we walked on ahead. At the top of this walk is a Celtic High Cross with the most amazing views all the way across the patchwork of farming lands all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. We stopped, Bilberry Man caught up with us, and started to tell us about how he lives in Skibbereen, is 77 years young, owns the same shop that was occupied by O’Donovan Rossa “..but shur, he only lasted four days, I’ve been there for four decades”, and travels to our spot of West Cork for the Latin Mass on Sunday’s.
As he bid farewell, I was afflicted with one of those awkward lumps in the throat. I couldn’t help but feel as though we had been visited by an angel. I’m not really into such things, but the fact of the news we had just received; the appearance of this man we happened across and how he was dressed, and how he had in a small way helped to lift our saddened spirits it just felt like we had.
We never asked his name, mores the pity, and we met him one other time on the way back down in yet another thicket of bilberries. “Come back with a jar before the end of August,” he said, “They’ll be fruiting up until then for sure.”
So that’s what we aimed to do. Two weeks later, on another hot, muddy Sunday walking up the hill, through the cool of the pine forests, the view and back down again. By the time we arrived back at the car, we had about two jam jars full. “Just enough to make a delicious compote”, I thought to myself. And of course, compotes sit very well on top of light fluffy cheesecakes.
Most of all, ENJOY!
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