I had a revelation about food in a place where I least expected it - on a plane, Turkish Airlines, to be precise. A friend who had previously flown with the airline told me to order the cherry juice offered on the beverage cart. Most cherry drinks are too sweet, but this one, made from sour cherries, was tart and refreshing. My previous samplings of sour cherries - as jam and brandied fruit - didn't do it justice. I ordered them whenever I saw them on a menu throughout my visit to Istanbul, where chefs use them in sweet and savoury dishes, as well as drinks. The fruit was in season during our visit in August and were easy to spot against the varieties of sweet cherries being sold: the sour cherries were smaller, a vivid red and almost translucent. I've never seen fresh sour cherries in Hong Kong markets - they're a soft, delicate fruit that is difficult to ship (the ones I brought back from Turkey ended up pretty squashed). I once saw some good-quality sour cherries in the frozen-fruit section. They're also sold as dried fruit and in preserves. Most of the European brandied cherries are made from sour cherries. I made a batch of these from my precious stash from Turkey: pit the fruit and put it in a sterilised glass jar. Sprinkle with a little sugar then cover with brandy. Leave for at least a month, shaking the jar occasionally to dissolve the sugar, then taste the liquid - it should be well-balanced between tart, sweet and alcohol-y. Add more sugar, if needed, and continue to macerate. This keeps indefinitely. The cherries, drained of most of the liquid, are delicious in brandied cherry ice cream, while the cherry-flavoured brandy makes a wonderful digestif. Dried sour cherries can be used in desserts in place of raisins. I especially like them in chocolate desserts. For a sinfully delicious chocolate pound cake, soak some dried sour cherries in brandy until soft. Drain the cherries and squeeze out as much liquid as possible (reserve the brandy), then roughly chop them. Fold the cherries into a chocolate pound cake batter and bake. When the cake is hot out of the oven, poke holes in it using long skewers, then brush with the reserved cherry brandy.