December 2011

It’s stonefruit time. Enjoy peaches, nectarines and apricots all through summer with different varieties rolling out as the season progresses — ask your greengrocer.

Sadly, the rain is playing havoc with the cherry crop, especially in Young. Watch out for a new melon — Bel Oro — some calling it the mango melon: it looks like a yellow honeydew, cuts like a rockmelon and tastes like the old-fashioned musk melon with a good, deep flavour. There’s only a limited supply this year; maybe more next year.

A good tip from provedore Matt Brown: you can tell a good rockmelon by the skin — green background and fewer scribbles.

Figs will be here soon but don’t forget the best aren’t on the shelves until after Christmas and they keep getting better until the middle of April. Only buy them really, really ripe and oozing their syrup — rub your finger on the skin and it should come away (better buy that one).

Let’s not forget mangoes — my experience is that they’re good this year. The early ones are from the Territory; we’re waiting for the Queensland crops to come through at time of writing.

And berries — raspberries, blackberries, blueberries — are all good. Time to make summer pudding.

Matt Brown has a farmer who is growing the tiny but exquisite-tasting and perfumed alpine strawberry up in the Blue Mountains. The last grower I knew of was Neville Smith, who grew them in Orange but retired years ago.

Ross Lusted has taken them into The Bridge Room (44 Bridge Street, Sydney, Ph 9247 700) where he’s serving them with reduced blackcurrant juice, cream and finely shredded, twice-cooked crepes.

At La Disfida (109 Ramsay Street, Haberfield, Ph 9789 8299), Peter Zuzza’s kitchen has gone wild with berries, too — raspberries, strawberries and blueberries with a cold zabaglione, mascarpone and pannacotta with mango coulis. 

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