Magazine article Sunset

A Treasury of Western Nuts

Magazine article Sunset

A Treasury of Western Nuts

Article excerpt

SAVOR THE TASTES & TEXTURES OF SEVEN REGIONAL NATURALS

Like love, the nature of nuts runs the gamut from sacred to profane, coarse to classic. As part of the language, each defines many shades of emotion, modifies countless things. And the taste of nuts can be as memorable, as indulgent, as a romantic moment. A case in point: a dream meal I once experienced on a shady lanai on a Hawaiian macadamia plantation. It began with trays of mai tais and large monkeypod bowls mounded with roasted, salted whole macadamia nuts. The tender salad leaves cradled chunks of macadamias. The sauteed fish entree had a crust of macadamias. The dessert was a creamy macadamia nut pie. In each dish, the nut crunched with subtle, tantalizing differences. And in each presentation, its flavor stood out, albeit harmonically, much like Cecilia Bartoli backed up by a chorus of angels.

But macadamias don't have an exclusive on luxurious flavor. Another moment, many years ago: When I was young, poor, and headed home from France, a traumatic ticket mix-up landed me a first-class seat. Drained and exhausted, I fell into it. In an instant, the flight attendant handed me a glass of elegant champagne with the tiniest of bubbles on the rise, and a dish of warm, roasted, skinned hazelnuts. …

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