June 29, 2012

Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries

On a recent visit to the Wednesday Santa Monica farmers market, there was a mob scene in front of one of the stalls.  I'd never seen anything like it.  Was Jessica Simpson out and about with her new baby?  Have the Kardashians started selling eggs?  Neither.  People were freaking out because cherries are now in season.  There were six varietals to sample: some red, others yellow, with varying degrees of tart and sweet.  I knew I had to do something with this moment.  Hence, a 'Life is Just A Bowl of Cherries' dinner party.  A date was set, invitations were mailed and operation cherry was in motion.  Planning a menu with such a specific theme was very fun and it was a treat to be inspired.  I was genuinely tickled with myself each time I thought of another way to use a cherry.  My best food friend Erin turned me onto The Flavor Bible, which is an awesome book for food and flavor pairings--really, really helpful.  This particular group of ladies happen to love their tequila so a serrano cherry margarita was a no-brainer (though bourbon is another lovely compliment to cherries).  For appetizers, bing cherries were stuffed with ricotta & thyme.  And, after pickling some lapin cherries, I paired them with salty marcona almonds and duck prosciutto, which was a rich, fatty compliment. When we sat down to dinner, I bravely served a table of women messy baby back ribs with a sweet and smoky cherry chipotle bbq sauce; luckily, we all threw down.  The sides were simple and satisfying: roasted sweet onions and rainier cherries alongside a kale salad with dried cherries and cherrywood balsamic vinegar.  To end, cherry almond crisps baked in mason jars (what is the next mason jar?!) ala mode.  Pitting all of those cherries to make a real cherry crisp was, in fact, the pits, but the pay off was well worth the efforts.  (I did cheat with this fancy cherry pitter, which is well worth the investment for pies and jams).  It tasted really special, even to me, and I'm not a fruit dessert sort of gal.  Chocolate is another friend to the cherry, so guests left with a bag of cherry treats: chocolate covered cherries and sour cherry gummies, which are like crack to me.  Amy set a playful table with a small bowl of cherries at each place setting, serving as the place cards.  And printed menus, in red font, mentioned the various cherries in each dish.  While life isn't always a bowl of cherries (sometimes it's the pits), fun dinners with an out of the blue whimsical theme, can certainly help to raise the sweet to rotten ratio.
The Menu


serrano cherry margarita

cloudline oregon pinot noir, 2009
deep cherry, black fruits & earth


ricotta & thyme stuffed bing cherries

pickled lapin cherries, marcona almonds & duck prosciutto

to share

baby baby ribs with tart michigan cherry & chipotle bbq sauce

kale, arugula & dried cherry salad with cherrywood balsamic vinaigrette

roasted sweet onions & rainier cherries

rosemary corn bread with honey


flavor giant cherry almond crisp ala mode


cherry treats: sour cherry gummies, cherry balls & chocolate covered cherries


Anonymous said...

I want that crisp with my morning coffee, right now!

dana said...

I love this entire idea and I'm thinking it could be easily, and prettily, translated into a christmas holiday dinner. I'm hosting a weeks worth of guests, in different groups, this year and this, using dried and frozen cherries for most things, could be fun. thanks

Karolina said...

Such a great idea!Love it :)

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