It was sometime before midnight, and I was sitting outside of a departure gate in the Atlanta airport, waiting for a connecting plane, which was increasingly late. A woman at the end of the row was talking loudly on a cell phone about her upcoming birthday, wheedling the poor soul on the other end to make her a cake made entirely of fried chicken for the occasion.
Big Green Tractor twanged over the airport speakers. I tried to tune them both out, anxiously sipping airport coffee and staring through the wall of glass to the blinking red and white lights of taxi-ing planes and ground crews busying about on the dark runways beyond.
The bracing February air whistled through the seams in the jetway when I finally stepped off the plane in Tennessee, chilly, even in my new coat and boots, butterflies fluttering in my chest. I ducked into a restroom to check my hair one more time, then found him, leaning casually against a column in the arrivals lobby, smiling, and as handsome as ever.
A few weeks before, when I’d booked my ticket, we were strictly platonic. I was just visiting an old college friend, who happened to be stationed in Tennessee, on the edge of the Kentucky border. I’d never been to Nashville, and it was an excuse to get out of San Francisco for a long weekend.
…but then a few days before my flight, he sent me flowers for Valentine’s day, and suddenly, I didn’t know what to think.
I fell hard for my (now) husband that long weekend four years ago. He wooed me with local live music and southern barbecue. Motorcycle rides along back country roads and rocking chairs at Cracker Barrel. Lots of laughter, and more fiery, apple pie moonshine than I’d like to admit.
One of the days, we drove south to Lynchburg, opaque woods lining our way, broken up now and then by towering steel power lines, snaked through sudden cut outs in the ubiquitous swaths of green that trace so many southern highways.
We passed more than one horse-drawn Amish buggy as the countryside opened up to green rolling hills, then darkened to a smokey grey as we neared the Jack Daniel’s distillery. The surrounding trees, mostly barren in February, were covered in a naturally-occurring whiskey-fungus, which also coated the historic distillery buildings, warehouses and walkways, and gave the whole place an eerie, auspicious feel, particularly in the dead of winter.
But the warm, yeasty aroma of fermenting whiskey permeated the air, and welcomed us to the tour. A non-tasting tour, mind you, as Moore County is still a dry county, despite producing millions upon millions of bottles of whiskey a year.
We somehow ended up with a limited edition, commemorative bottle of Jack, that sits on our bar today. While I don’t even much like drinking straight whiskey or bourbon, there’s something about it that pulls me back to that trip, when I suddenly saw our friendship in a new light, and the months that followed, bouncing back and forth between San Francisco and Tennessee, falling – tripping over myself, really – in love with him.
So, about these chocolate whiskey truffles…
I first made these chocolate whiskey truffles a few Christmases ago, as indulgent, handmade morsels to gift during the holidays, and I’ve kept them from you for far too long.
The truffles are a breeze to make; dark chocolate melts into gently cooked, whiskey-spiked cream, then the ganache is chilled, shaped into balls, and rolled in chopped pecans (to continue the southern theme) or traditional cocoa powder.
The resultant truffles are absolutely heavenly, with a subtle hint of whiskey laced throughout the creamy chocolate (adding more depth of flavor than significant alcohol content).
My love may be away this Valentine’s day, but homemade truffles (and gal-entine’s day plans tonight) are keeping me from feeling too lonely. Plus, we’ve got some fun things cooking for when he’ll be back next month. However you’re spending your Valentine’s Day (or your Anna Howard Shaw Day), I hope it’s full of love and chocolate! xo!Print