Last week I brought home a haul of scraps from Dirt Candy – including a quart of fresh hearts of palm. We only use the tenderest centres of the hearts of palm, the cores that look like Elizabethan ruffles or experimental origami. Which means I get to keep the outer layers, the more fibrous, crunchy casings, which are still incredibly delicious. They have a very subtle flavour, aromatic in a dark fruit sort of way, with a whiff of meaty mushroom scent, like plums and morels. The texture is also very unique – soft, giving to the teeth, with the slightest crunch. Like a good mattress.
On Wednesday I tossed them with some radish greens, purple carrots (also from Dirt Candy), lemon verbena, marcona almonds, a scattering of dried cherries, and a plump pat of Petit Billy goat’s cheese from the Loire valley – incredibly moist, almost like mousse or whipped ricotta, with not as much acidity as a generic chèvre but still a pleasant tang that was well-balanced by its light creaminess.
It was quite a sweet salad. The hearts of palm had, surprisingly, intensified their flavour in the fridge, giving them an almost pungent sweetness, while the lemon verbena only added to the heady aromas. It was sort of something to swoon over, and then be resuscitated by.
We had a feast for lunch. Hannah had brought a whole pizza she made the night before, with carmelised onions, roasted eggplant, herbs and mustard greens, and Kathleen had some of her stewed Japanese eggplant with tomato sauce and black mustard seed. I guess we had a sort of eggplant/mustard theme going on, I didn’t realise that before. Hannah and I had also both brought some cheeses from our respective classes at Murray’s.
Oh, and there was still some stone fruit; those apricots were even riper.