Make the cherries the day before and serve them chilled. The cherries can be pitted or unpitted: unpitted looks better (and is less hassle for the cook); pitted is easier for eaters.
For the Cherries
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2¼ cups Valpolicella, Pinot Noir, or other cherryish red wine
2 broad strips of unwaxed lemon zest
2 lb sweet or sour cherries
3 tablespoons kirsch (optional)
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
For the Shortbread
1⅔ sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened
⅔ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more to serve, plus more for the cream
pinch of sea salt flakes
finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more to dust
⅔ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon rose water
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
½ cup shelled unsalted pistachios, chopped
candied rose petals (optional)
For the Cream
Seeds from 4 green cardamom pods
1¼ cups heavy cream
Put the sugar for the cherries into a large saucepan with the wine, a scant cup of water, and the strips of lemon zest. Bring to a boil, stirring to help the sugar dissolve, then boil for 8 minutes. Reduce the heat, add the cherries, and let simmer for 4 minutes. Lift the cherries out with a slotted spoon onto a tray with a rim or a baking pan; they will stop cooking if they’re not touching one another.
Let the syrup cool, then taste and add a slug of kirsch if you want to, or a good squeeze of lemon juice; sometimes the syrup needs this to cut the sugar a bit, but it depends how sweet your cherries are. Put the cherries in a bowl and pour over the red wine syrup.
To make the cookies, beat the butter and confectioner’s sugar until creamy, then add the salt and zest. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour, cornstarch, and rose water and beat them together. Remove the dough from the mixer and, on a lightly floured surface, shape it into a log about 2½ inches in diameter. Brush with beaten egg, then roll it in the pistachios. Carefully wrap in foil and chill for 1 hour or so.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the log into cookies about ⅛ inch thick and arrange them 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes—they will just turn a little golden around the edges—then let cool for 10 minutes. Carefully lift them onto a wire rack with a metal spatula: they are very fragile, so be careful. Before serving, sift a little confectioners’ sugar over the top and scatter with some candied rose petals, if you like.
Grind the cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle, or in a spice mill. Put the cream into a bowl, add the cardamom, then whip the cream to soft peaks, adding confectioners’ sugar to taste.
Serve the cherries with the shortbread and cardamom cream.