Sunday, 10 February 2008
A Bowl of Fruit
The end of a lunch for the artist and his muse.
The lunch remains ours but the fruit is fair game.
I spent a couple of days in town this week and could not help but notice the size of the stone-fruit in the markets; they’re breeding them big for the city.
The fruit you see in the bowl are Green-Gage plums and white nectarines. The tree from where the nectarines were picked I found at the Birregurra tip over 20 years ago and was one of the first fruit trees planted here at Sunnybrae. As found it was a gnarled old stump that had been coppiced a couple of times, like a huge Mallee-root with a few sticks still in leaf. After taking an axe to it I chopped it into about six bits and each one has grown and fruited from that day on. I don’t know the variety but its small intensely flavoured with a back palate that’s very pleasantly slightly bitter. Each year we dry the excess and the perfume of the dried fruit is still strong after a year.
The plums on the other hand are from a three year old tree, pure sweetness almost painfully so. Green Gage plums are deceptive. The colour green to our visual palate always suggests sour or un-ripe but in this case green definitely means go.
The liquid they were marinated in is a light sugar syrup with plenty of lemon and a touch of cardamom and vanilla. The hot syrup is poured over the raw fruit and that is enough to lightly soften the already perfect ripeness.
It was to be served with a fresh goat’s cheese panir. But as I warmed the milk added some buttermilk and lemon I immediately realised that there would not be enough curd but kept at it. It tasted a little bland so I added some extra salt and as the heat grew the curds became plastic like a mozzarella. Finally I placed the lightly pressed curd onto a bowl and put the closest weight on top [the melon] to make a small indent on the top.
This was filled with a little chopped shallot, EVO [last years] and some finely cut basil and it found its way into the antipasto.
The Angelinas, Prune d’Agen and Satsumas are next.
The cooking class schedule is on the new Cooking Class blog at the top right of this page.