Monday 20 May 2013

The Quintessential Quince 2: Quince Paste, Jelly, and Pickle

The jelly- the Jam and the marmalade,
And the cherry and quince "preserves'' she made!
And the sweet-sour pickles of peach and pear,
With cinnamon in 'em, and all things rare--!
And the more we ate was the more to spare,
Out to Old Aunt Mary's!
~ James Whitcomb Riley, Old Aunt Mary's. 

I read an hilarious article the other day that analysed why Gwyneth Paltrow seems to be the celebrity that people love to hate at the moment.  In a nutshell, it's pretty much because she's drop dead beautiful, filthy rich, talented at acting, writes cookbooks, has gorgeous children, famous friends, and a hugely successful business.  It's just so thoroughly unlikable that there is nothing this woman is not good at.    Dreadfully tall poppy I know but there it is.  Us mere mortals have to contend with having lots of things we are not good at.

Of the many things I suck at, singing in particular has never been a strong suit.

As a kid, when I was into tap dancing competitions, there was one routine where I had to sing and dance at the same time.  What I lacked in on tune-ness, I made up for in loudness.  I remember axe-murdering those high notes so loudly and so badly, my dancing teacher had to stifle belly laughs.  Yes, I would've been one of those auditions on the X Factor.

Another thing I've never been good at is jam making. When I got given these gorgeous quinces from Catherine at work, I had imagined spending a sunny afternoon channeling domestic goddesses of old like Old Aunt Mary, lovingly stirring pots of gorgeous ruby red quince paste and jewel-like crystal clear quince jelly.  How it ended up was with me standing over an angry spitting pot of liquid hot quince magma at 2am in the morning that refused to set.  Delicious tasting mind you, but less paste or jelly like and more what you would imagine hot molten lava to look like: a cloudy, lumpy, muddy red gloop. 

{The good quince jelly, the bad quince jelly}

Sunday 5 May 2013

The Quintessential Quince: Maple Chardonnay Slow Roasted Quinces

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon.
~ The Owl and the Pussy Cat, Edward Lear (1871)

The quince is a quirky little fruit.  

If you haven't experienced quinces before, they are a bit like a cross between a very hard pear and a quava in texture, practically inedible in its raw state but when you cook it for long periods, its white flesh slowly develops a gorgeous ruby red hue that tastes of fragrantly floral tartness. 

I know I'm romanticising them a little but heck I'm not the only one, according to myths, legend and wiki the quince was the fruit given to Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love by Paris the Prince of Troy and ancient Greek brides would nibble on quinces to perfume their breath before entering the bridal chamber.

This quintessential autumnal fruit is rather old-fashioned and these days isn't all that common to come by.  They are rarely seen in supermarkets plus the quince season is quite short. You kinda gotta know people who know people.


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