I would have to wait until college to taste my first Indian chutney, a sweet-tart-spicy-hot-chunky-fruity, completely addictive condiment. After that first mind altering bite, there was no turning back. Today, our frig always contains at least one homemade and several store-bought chutneys.
There is a simple, earthy cake in the French culinary repertoire, from the region of Limousin, called clafouti (pronounced klah-foo-tee), which is an especially delicious way to treat fresh fruit and berries in summer. My version is more cake-like than custard-like. In fact, it contains no eggs and yet has a decidedly chewy texture, which everyone who tastes it loves. I don’t recall where I stumbled on the unusual formula here, but I have not encountered it anywhere since.
Long, long ago, in a far, far away land (okay, it was Phinney Ridge near the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle), I was the co-owner of a cheesecake business called the Uncommon Cheesecake. My partner and I baked the most extraordinary cheesecakes I have ever tasted, before or since: Grand Marnier with Bitter Orange, Candied Ginger, and Café Mocha to name a few I can recall.
Blueberry season is in full swing in the Northwest. Yesterday, the Pike Place Market was overflowing with these silvery purple jewels. I nibbled my way around until I found a local grower whose berries seemed just right: full and multidimensional in flavor with good acidity to balance their sweetness.
Although blueberries are indigenous to American soil and were one of the first fruits encountered by early settlers, the blueberry industry was still a relative newcomer to Washington and Oregon agribusiness in the 1990’s when I first wrote about it in Pacific Northwest Palate: Four Seasons of Great Cooking. At that time, the industry was 25-30 years young by most accounts.