It’s been a busy weekend, friends: in the last 48 hours, I painted my entire bedroom, picked 25 pounds of apples (none of which will go to waste, I assure you), and somehow managed to land my marshmallow fluff banana cream pie in a Buzzfeed slideshow. Also, Alice Medrich followed me on Twitter and I almost stroked out with excitement because I have mad respect for that woman. In the meantime, Feast Magazine expanded their coverage, celebrated the launch at Knife & Pork in Kansas City, and WON AN EMMY for the August 2013 episode of Feast TV at the Mid-America Emmys. And yes, I did shout that, because I’m super proud of them.
And about that expanded coverage; that means more pages, more restaurants, more recipes, more everything. Have you subscribed yet? You should. Oh! And right now, there’s a giveaway going on for a free subscription, so enter. Did you see the part where I said more recipes? I thought so. In the October issue, you have Sweet Potato Pub Cheese with Yukon Gold Potato Rounds (hello!) and a Pork Bahn Mi with Homemade Mayo (when is a bahn mi bad? Never, that’s when). You also have my magazine girl crush Christy Augustin of Pint Size Bakery showing you how to make Missouri Pecan Financiers with Spiced Pear Butter, which I will be making as soon as I can get my pear-loving hands on the ingredients. That girl means business with her desserts, and I love that about her.
And then there’s me, bringing it home with my weird ingredients. This month, I work with an ingredient that’s all-around delightful: please allow me to present nature’s troll doll, the rambutan.
I would guess that out of all the Mystery Shopper columns I’ve done, this one was my most interesting to date. I had never seen a rambutan in real life before, much less tasted one, but I am mostly up for whatever when it comes to food, although Mr. Table finds that more than a little disturbing, but he won’t even eat mushrooms.
Turns out rambutan is pretty gettable: at least in cans, in international markets, where the sheer amount of asian fruit packed in juice and inserted into cans is almost overwhelming. Longan, mangosteen, really anything you want, right there for the taking, which is great, because importing these types of fruits can be tricky. Rambutan, for instance, must ripen on the tree for it to be good, so getting it from Point A to Point B? Not always easy.
But doable, just the same: if you have a favorite asian or international market near you, or a Whole Foods, you’ll see fresh rambutan hit the shelves a few times a year, in small quantities. And don’t worry about the spines this time: the prickly pears may be hazardous to your hands, but rambutan spikes are bendy like rubber. You’ll want to look for bright fruit ranging in color from magenta to burgundy: if they’re brown, it means they’re days away from being past their prime. Picking around in the bin is worth it because you’ll get the freshest of the bunch.
I highly recommend you try these: rambutan have a slightly gelatinous, wiggly little texture, like a jello version of a grape with no outer skin. They have this really beautiful, muted floral flavor, and it’s not hard to get addicted to them. I like them solo, because their flavor is so unique; with that in mind, my recipe for them is simple, and showcases their flavor in the best way I could think of, aside from just popping them in your mouth.
Sorbet: appropriate any time of year. Ice cream is also, but to a lesser degree: I’m never going to turn it down, but I crave it less in cooler temperatures. Sorbet I could eat anytime, day or night, because it’s more about the flavors than it is the chill, at least for me. I think this sorbet is about as October as you can get without throwing pumpkin or apple pie into it: it pairs the rambutan with fresh pears poached in ginger syrup, and that’s basically it. The texture of the pear and the rambutan give the sorbet an almost creamy consistency, and the ginger gives it just a hint of spice: very background, but present. Bonus: this recipe works just as well with canned rambutan as it does with fresh, which leaves with no options but to make this immediately.
I’m going to level with you: most recipes aren’t for everyone. there’s always people who will gravitate towards some things and away from others, based on their own preferences. This sorbet? Hard to imagine someone not instantly loving this. I’m not horn-tooting here, but it’s so subtle, but with this great, distinctive flavor at the same time: hard to explain unless you taste it firsthand, but I’m really hoping you try this. Look at it this way: it has minimal ingredients, almost zero hands-on time, and it makes something you can eat for dessert, or between courses, or sitting on your porch on a Tuesday afternoon. Don’t fight this one: you’ll love it. Toot, toot.
You can find the recipe for your new favorite sorbet, Rambutan + Ginger-Poached Pear, here, and as always, head over to Feast’s website to explore what’s going on here in the Midwest. There’s been a little reno going on over there too, and I’m sort of in love with the whole look of it; the scripty fonts used for each section of the site are particularly fetching, and I think you’ll agree.
Guess what? I made a pumpkin thing, and something to go with the pumpkin thing, and something to go on top of the thing which goes with the pumpkin thing. What’s more? I bet you’ve never made this particular pumpkin thing. That’s up next. See you soon. Until then, have fun looking at beauty shots of rambutan.