Sunday, June 05, 2005

maybe lebovitz can do it

dear readers, sometimes i undergo these trials so you don't have to. case in point: the cape gooseberry or physalis, a currently chic fruit.

what interested me about it? it's rumored to be great when dipped in chocolate.

so i tromped over to my local garden of eden and plunked down a kidney for 8 oz. of these. they are a most cheerful yellow color, and mostly indistinguishable from yellow cherry tomatoes when removed from their papery shells.

with high hopes, i rushed home, tossed the shell aside and bit: yikes! it's filled on the inside with a smooth, cherry-like pulp completely dotted with tiny white seeds that pop in your mouth.

and unlike the "pineapple-y" flavor i'd been hearing about, frankly, it tasted to me just like the green tomatillo, but somewhat sweeter, not tart.

ok, so raw was a bust.

naturally i quickly broke up part of a bar of el rey that i had handy, tossed it in the microwave to melt (no seizing!), and did the big dip.

well, it tasted like a yellow cherry tomato that had been coated in 70%. another winner -- not.

several years ago i attended a lecture where a famous chef-personality in orange clogs talked about italian cooking, that what made it great was how desperation forced innovation. or as he put it:"the italians will try out any way to make an ingredient delicious before they have to give up and feed it to the dog."

with this addage in mind, and a quick look at chocolatier david lebovitz' blog (in which he candies cherries), i thought, aha! i will candy these puppies and use 'em as a topping for vanilla ice cream.

thus i poached the remaining 6 oz. in 2/3 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons cognac. i reduced and reduced (say 20-30 mins.) until they were barely coated in a light caramel-colored syrup and the fruit had collapsed, turning a nice dark saffron color.

i thought i was on the right track here. i added a pinch o' cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and in homage to their tomato-y character, some fresh basil on top in chiffonade.

(this basil idea actually comes from a classic french macedoine of fruit, often seen in a sauce made with courvoisier or grand marnier and topped with said basil. yummy! i used to eat this at the cute and funky hotel savoy in san francisco all the time. . .)

this mixture did vaguely taste like something you might want to eat, altho' any flavor the fruit contributed to it was, um, honestly, minimal.

i spooned this over a small scoop of vanilla -- and regretted it. those horrid little seeds were just annoying. a-n-n-o-y-i-n-g.

in sum, i don't think you can do anything with these cute little critters. i mean, i don't think i can. . .

but maybe lebovitz, he can do it?

posted by fortune | 7:34 PM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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