Bing, Brooks, Chelan. Tulare, Rainier, Coral. Cherries, in all of these glorious varieties and more, are bringing sexy back to the culinary world for another year!
What is it about cherries that makes us feel, well, kind of sexy? First off, the color red is synonymous with extremity – extreme love, extreme danger, passion, adventure – so it’s only natural that the cheeky little cherry comes in at least fifty shades of red, from a deep merlot through to a bright candy red. Beyond its seductive color and behind its glossy skin, the ripe flesh of this petite stone fruit bursts with intense flavor and adds love to both savory and sweet dishes.
Cherries are grouped into two simple categories – sweet and sour. Mother Nature designed the plump, sweet varieties, which range from firm and crisp to soft and juicy, to be eaten just as they are - raw. The predominately smaller sour cherry is most often cooked to mellow the bitter and tart flavor and enhance the sweet notes. Additionally, there are the “in-betweener” cherries, which are a hybrid of the sweet and sour varieties. The large and dark red Bing cherry is California’s major, sweet variety and is readily available in May and June. Of course, dipping our toes in the unknown is part of the challenge and reward of selecting just a single hero ingredient each month, so we’ll be tasting and testing varieties that are lesser known and unfamiliar to us. Just recently, Steven Murray, owner of Murray Family Farms in Bakersfield, California, told us he had at least forty varieties bloomin' on his cherry trees this season. Mind blown.
Cherries like to dance with duck, ham, squab, goat and cream cheese, beets and almonds – in fact, just like a good friend or lover brings out the best version of you, the almond draws out a more intense flavor from the cherry when they team up together. Perhaps more indulgently, cherries are at home with butter, chocolate, pastry, vanilla ice cream, yogurt and rose wine. Cherries and rose. We don't blame you if you're daydreaming of a late summer afternoon picnic right about now...
Just like the ephemeral cherry season, the monthly menus at Maude are fleeting... Whether you’re a seasoned guest of ours (thank you!) or have been waiting for the just the right hero ingredient to pop your Maude cherry on (wink!), we are looking forward to welcoming our guests to our intimate little dining room in June for a special month-long summer celebration inspired by cherries. Reservations for June's Cherry Menu open Sunday 1st May 2016.