I’m not sure if I’ve gone into any particular detail about this before, so bear with me while I confess: fruit is not my favorite.
A blanket statement, a write-off of an entire category of food, from a food blogger?! The shame, the audacity. Really, the hypocrisy. How ever can one be taken seriously, as a foodie, if an entire group of nature’s best produce is cast in the ‘not to be eaten’ category?
Well, I’d hope that a common love of fat, sugar, bacon, and caffeine would aid in letting my dismissal of fruit slide. Because it is the truth. Save for apples, grapes, and blueberry pie, very few fruits taste delicious. Pears, plums, nectarines, apricots, strawberries, blackberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, oranges, clementines, all of the above do not, in anyway, appeal to my palate. Yes, it makes no sense. If I love sugar like I claim to, then fruits are the easiest and healthiest way for me to take advantage of nature’s natural glucose. And, yet.
I cannot explain my aversion to fruit. Sometimes, it’s the texture that gets me, but more often than not, it’s the flavor. That floral, soapy, fruity flavor. Ugh.
This fruit-avoidance is the reason for the skewed ratio of non-fruit to fruit desserts on this blog. My family will knowingly answer, “something with fruit?” when I ask what kind of dessert they’d like to eat, only to be shot down with a look. I rarely make an exception outside of birthdays for fruit-based treats. And it is all to my detriment.
It’s more of a hindrance, an annoyance than a culinary position. There is no possible way to defend a dislike of fruit. How I wish a nectarine appealed to me, if only, my life would be make all the more easy. More times than I would like to recall have I had to forgo a delicious sounding chocolate tart because of errant raspberry sauce. Yes, please, can I have that brown butter pound cake, but please hold the compote. A trio of ice cream you say? What about just the chocolate and coffee duo, minus that horrid passion fruit crème? Espresso with an overtone of blackberry? No, thank you. Beer infused with apricot? I’ll stick to my hops.
So please, imagine my utter glee at happening upon a fruit pastry I’ll gladly eat on a menu. Such an instance occurred at Salt’s Cure in Los Angeles, with an apple, date, pecan, and cheddar crumble. I ordered without need for further explanation. And it was not a crumble in the strictest sense, it was really a tart topped with a mound of streusel, which is never a letdown. The combination of apples and dates, with the salty pecan and subtle to the point of undetectable cheddar was perfect. So perfect, it had to be replicated.
This recipe is ingenious on several levels, the first being wholly technical. The dates, when lining the bottom of a tart shell, act as a natural sponge for the juices the sliced apples will inevitably leak and the result is a date plumped and spiced beyond all hopes and dreams. The apples proved a layer of the best Thanksgiving memories and the crumble, oh, the crumble. Studded with toasted pecans, it’s marvelous. I’ll admit, I had not idea where to put the cheddar. Incorporated into the crust? What about in the streusel?
Opting for the classic ‘in the filling’ American tactic, I grated little more than a teaspoon of cheddar atop each tart before topping them off with streusel. The result? A hint of earthy saltiness at the end of each bite.
Recipe on the following page.