Thursday, February 02, 2012

Bergamot Surprise

It's February. Y'all knew that though, so why am I telling you? I'm telling you because the bergamot, my favourite citrus and object of my undying devotion, is in season right now. These little guys have such a short season, but they're in my thoughts pretty much year round, as you also knew.

Today, the FedEx guy came with a package. I was expecting this package, though I didn't know what was in it. Lisa, from Meadowood Designs, had gotten my address recently and said she was sending me something, but was delightfully silent about what this something was. I've spent several days waiting while I tried to ignore my insatiable curiosity, to find out what was coming. So while I sat waiting for the package, reading Kitzhaber for one of my classes, the FedEx guy has spent his day making the rounds of delivering treasures to people all over Houston. And finally, he arrived at my apartment. I heard the first knock and started making my way to the front door as the sound of knocking increased in volume until he was literally banging on my door by the time I reached it (I'd left a note saying to knock loudly because I didn't want to miss him if I was outside smoking or taking a shower), which made me laugh. He handed me my little box and wandered off to finish his deliveries.

I grabbed some scissors and cut the box open. Before I'd even had a chance to see what was in the box, I smelled them. I'll admit I cried a little bit. It's amazing how profoundly a smell can affect our emotions, particularly when it's coupled with the kindness of those in our community.

You see, every year or two I go through the arduous task of finding a produce purveyor who is willing to be annoyed by me until they find, usually in California, a grower who's willing to ship a case or two of bergamots to them/me. After which I spend days in the kitchen, processing oranges until my skin is red and there is no smell in the house other than bergamot for a week or two. It's a wonderful time in my life. This year I realised I was low on juice (though not on zest; I have tons of dried zest though no frozen zest) I am (2 quarts at the most remain) and so I started the process again last month (admittedly a little late in the season to be doing this). So far, without success. Just as I was resigning myself to another year without oranges to process and praying that someone could find some for me next year (by which time I'd surely be out of juice), I open a package and smell the exact thing I'd been longing so desperately for. FRESH bergamots. Bergamots to play with. Bergamots to hold. Bergamots to cuddle with (don't ask). Bergamots to cook with. Bergamots to be inspired by. Bergamots, bergamots, bergamots. Today may very well be the happiest day of my life aside from my wedding day. There's a bergamot sitting in my lap now, as I type. Is it any wonder I cried a little?

Somehow, I have a hard time imagining I'm going to get much more homework done today, because my brain is filled with the sweet, musky scent of bergamots and dreams of all the things I can make with these. What could I possibly have done to merit such kindness? I don't know, but I hope I keep it up.

There's more than just (just?) bergamot in here though. There're two little oblong, slightly elliptoid blood oranges (so far beyond cute, I can't even tell you) that I believe will be going into a custard. Or maybe custard tarts. We'll see. There's also another citrus, which is Lisa's favourite. I'm not sure if it's a grapefruit or a pomelo yet because I haven't opened it yet (which one is it that's your favourite, Lisa?). All I can think about right now are the bergamots, though. Jesus, they're so beautiful. The purveyors have never sent me such incredible looking specimens. In fact, I've never seen them even close to this pretty excepting the times I've flown to California to sneak some back to Texas (don't arrest me - I do it out of love).

And so I had to make an extra post today, so share with you what happened in my day that could remove me so thoroughly from any cares whatsoever about my schooling. The one thing that can make me stop working on school stuff (the bergamots will not be hearing any sort of, "honey, you need to ignore me today and pretend I'm not here so I can get all this work done"). What an incredible distraction from my daily life.

And so, I am set to make some new things with these oranges. No bergamot pies (in fairness, the pies come out better with frozen and thawed juice). No curd. No marmalade. These are all things I do routinely when I get bergamot so I can preserve it. Not with these. Here's what I think I'll be making with them (we'll see how far into this list I can get):

Bergamot spoon sweets (I have been dwelling on these for the last two months)
Bergamot caramels (don't ask how long I've been contemplating these)
Bergamot-Lavender shortbreads
Bergamade (strangely, I've never posted this recipe for y'all, but it's one of my favourites)
Bergamot sugar (like vanilla sugar, except...)
Bergamot souffle
Bergamot upside-down cake
Bergamot syllabub
Bergamot granita
Bergamot marshmallows (well, provided that someone lets me use their stand mixer, as my holiday marshmallow making burned out the motor in mine)
Bergamot bars
Candied bergamot peel

And we'll see what else happens in my head. This is just what I've been thinking about over the last twenty minutes. As will not surprise y'all, I intend to squeak every last bit of life out of these guys. I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!

Thank you, Lisa, for this amazing gift. I don't even know what to say to express how deeply thankful I am, though I hope the above gives a small indication. It's one of the few times in my life where I've simply lacked the vocabulary to express the depth of my appreciation.

5 comments:

  1. You're certainly welcome. I have seldom given anything to anyone so grateful.
    Big baby is a Sarawak. If you eat it really fast, right off the peel, your mouth will tingle. They're a bit sweet this year, I'm afraid, but usually they're very sweet/sour. Really wonderful.
    Please set us up with all of those recipes! I still have bergamots to process!
    cheers,
    Lisa

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  2. Ohhhhhh, it IS a pomelo! I can't wait to get into that one, too!! Keep watching, Lisa. The next week or so is going to be rich in bergamot. On Tuesday will be the recipe for bergamot sugar, and on Wednesday, bergamot caramels (you'll be surprised by how easy they are to make). Then we'll see from there. If I've got enough bergamots left after everything else, I'll be making the spoon sweets too!!

    So, so, so excited to be on this bergamot extravaganza!

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  3. Yay bergamot! I am so excited for you. I had an equally exciting discovery today -- I found the ninja ducks that had been stalking me (long story). Turns out, they are scoters. Watch out, they be crazy!

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  4. I definitely lived vicariously through you on that post. :-)

    This is you and bergamot:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5jw3T3Jy70

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  5. Oh, DC. I so want to know about these ninja ducks! But I'm glad you had such a great day too!!

    You're right August - that totally was me. Slightly less crying, same level of OMG!

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