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Gifts of quince and crab apples

Honestly, sometimes people just surprise you. I mean, a few kind words of appreciation for a decent dinner is a lovely thing, you go home smiling and we do too. But this week a couple went beyond the few words and brought us a gift. Two gifts, in fact, and not tied up in ribbons and bows either, but in huge crates, one laden with crab apples and the other with quince. So, big thanks to Roger and Liz for their contribution to our winter storeroom and for a gesture that is genuinely touching.

Geraldine is gleefully taking charge of the fruit, and will be working on them over the weekend to turn them into products that will keep over the winter months. Crab apple jelly makes a lovely spread on breakfast toast, but it also has uses in desserts and salad dressings. And while we have been serving poached quince in salads and desserts for a few weeks already, it’s really cool to get a decent supply of local ones. Some will hopefully be made into membrillo to serve with cheese.

Mind you, it’s tempting not to cook the quince at all. As they sit and wait, their sweet, floral scent is quietly filling the dining room. Which reminds me of a story I often tell when people ask what they should do with quince. A friend had a quince tree that only produced tiny fruit – golfball rather than giant pear size – and he always kept a bowlful in the kitchen, as you would a vase of flowers, for their scent. Because the fruit is so dense and dry, they shrivel very slowly rather than rot, and as they do their fragrance intensifies and lasts for ages. he took to keeping one in his coat pocket too, so that he always had a part of the countryside with him wherever he went. Meeting him on the street, you were as likely to get a “here, smell me quince” as an hello. So, if you want to know what to do with quince, poach the big ones, make jelly of a few more and save a few for the fruit bowl and one for your pocket.

Posted on: 10 November 2010

 
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