Calissons in San Diego

8 10 2010

Ah, finally we get to try traditional French calissons. Maison en Provence, a cute shop in Mission Hills carrying specialties of the Provence region, recently started carrying calissons. They are from Chabert et Guillot in Montelimar, who appear to be particularly known for their nougat.

You can see in the picture how it breaks with a coarse crumble, but is moistly holding together. This version seems to have more water/sugar syrup than ours, is brighter orange in color, and is not ground quite as finely. I think the slightly coarser grind may help in bringing out more melon flavor — the very fine grind seems to swamp out the floral notes. The flavor reminds me of fruitcake with the almonds, candied fruit, and moist cake-like texture.


Huitlacoche with corn pots de creme

28 09 2010

Huitlacoche (wheet-la-co-che), also known as corn smut, is a wonderful delicacy, especially if you can find it fresh. It is hard to describe, but has a earthy mushroom flavor and lends a light savoriness to foods. It goes very well with corn, cream, eggs, light white cheeses (like mozzarella or Oaxacan cheese) and light amino acid rich seafood like scallops. This time of the year, Chino Farm occasionally has an ear or two and we snatch it up whenever we see it.

This preparation worked out really well. It is a savory pots de creme using corn juice instead of milk with dashes of salt, honey and butter. The huitlacoche is sauteed with shallots, butter and corn, and placed over strips of roasted red anaheim peppers. A bit of epazote is on top. It can be easy to drown out huitlacoche, but in this, it was highlighted with the roasted flavors from the peppers and the sweet creaminess of the custard.