Friday was the day when the Mikulás came. The Mikulás, or St Nicholas as you may know him, shows up on December 5th with various small gifts and sweets and stuff for children. [I should note here that there is some confusion over this date. Here, he comes on the 5th, but apparently in Hungary he comes on the 6th. It seems that his Romanian counterpart, Mos Niculae, comes on the 5th, so perhaps that's why the Mikulás comes then here]
Anyway, he came, as usual, and brought various sweets and cakes and fruit and stuff, and also brought me safely home from Uzbekistan and - on that day - Turkey, which is apt, since that's where he (St Nicholas) is from. The other thing he brought though was of much greater interest and value. He brought our palinka. I mentioned some time ago about the abundance of plums that we have acquired as part of our new land-owning status, and that we would be making palinka from them. Well, on Friday, Erika (and a friend, since I was unavoidably unable to be there thanks to the Tashkent fog) carted our barrels of fermenting plum mash off to the village church for just this purpose. For reasons which are unclear to me, but perhaps related to the role of the church at the heart of the community and the priest as guide to the people, the distiller had set up his equipment in the priest's garage next door to the church. And so a few hours after dropping off our plums, we had a significant quantity of delicious 53% abv palinka to our name. On Saturday evening some friends came round and we sampled it (and continued to sample it for quite a long time, to really make sure it was as good as we thought).
Yesterday morning I woke up without the merest trace of a hangover, which I take to mean that thius is really top quality stuff, since these days, I do tend to get some fairly brutal hangovers if I drink too much, and for that reason do so less and less. The fact that this palinka was able to do the job without leaving me comatose for the day is testament to the skills of our distillers. I raise a glass in their general direction! (hic)