Era uma vez uma nêspera...
|Griddled nesperas with Moscatel, tangerine juice and mascarpone|
Once upon a time there was a loquat tree.This tree was growing on a patch of grass next to a run down house on the corner of a street in an Algarvian village called Castro Marim.This tree bore a lot of delicious fruit.Every year a scheming chef from the neighbouring Casa Rosada saw the fruit ripening and had evil thoughts of foraging his local loquats.Twisting the fruit off the tree every spring, dusting off the fuzz, eating the fruit and then throwing the seeds aside for another tree to grow.He was happy to see the loquat trees bordering his neighbourhood, and wished for a bit of rehabilitation for them by plucking the honey sweet fruit from their tight clusters and secretly taking the seeds from the middle of the fruit.He yearned to plant them in his garden and watch them transform into fruit-producing treasures.Luckily his social conscience got the better of him and he said "No", these are local fruits for local people and the beauty of their sweet and abundant growth should be adored and not explored.
|The tree on the corner|
The English call these fruit `medlars´, but to the Portuguese they are the noble nesperas, and if you are from other eastern mediterranean parts, or particularly Lebanese, they would be the loquat. They are small roundish yellow fruit that look like-an-apricot-but-not-an-apricot, and have just one or two large pips and a lovely juicy flavour, even if they don’t look that attractive with a few skin blemishes.One can bite into a loquat like a plum, but I prefer to tear off the stem and unzip the skin, which is edible but flavourless and slightly bitter. Next, cut the fruit in half, flick out the seeds, and tear off the calyx (the little whorl at the base), and the interior membrane if it is tough. This sounds more complicated than it is, and the filet of a prime loquat,a pure glistening blemish free fruit resembling a half apricot, is your exquisite reward. What you do after that ( if they get have managed to escape your mouth) is your business but here is my suggestion.
Griddled Nesperas with Moscatel,
tangerine juice and mascarpone
Juice of 2 tangerines
1 tbsp of Moscatel wine
1 tbsp of muscavado sugar
150 ml mascarpone
Peel and stone the Nesperas and lightly grill them on a slightly greased grill pan. In a small bowl, add the tangerine juice, the moscatel, the sugar and mix well. Pour this marinade on top of the grilled loquats and let them marinate for 30 minutes.
Loquats are also great when mixed in fruit salads,cakes,compotes,and are a great addition or base for jams and jellies due to their pectin content. Loquatworld.com has an extensive collection of spiced and preserved loquats.