Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Cherry Surprise!

Those delightful Yoshino cherry trees (show-offs!) nonfruiting though they are, turn the mind to all things cherry nonetheless. Like so many other things, though, les cerises can leave a bad taste behind if not properly handled, delicate as they are. Cherry products that do right by me include:
  • McCutcheon's whole cherry preserves (the fruit-sweetened variety). This Frederick, MD-based company believes in truth in advertising, as you'll find many whole cherries, as well as large fruit pieces, in every jar of this fantastic, chunky spread.
  • Boylan black cherry soda--the best cherry soda ever! Full of old-fashioned fruit flavor, not medicinal in the least (the bane of many products that purport to contain cherry flavor).
  • The Republic of Tea's spring cherry green tea. I have one caveat about this one--it must be brewed properly for green tea. This means that its water must be kept just below boiling before pouring over the tea bag, and the bag must steep for less than three minutes. Otherwise, the brew, like the critters from Gremlins who munch after midnight, turns ugly.

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You may have heard (or not) that cherries can relieve aches and pains. Jean Carper, in her book,
Food--Your Miracle Medicine, relates that cherries are one of the foods that are extremely high in natural (and legal!) painkilling substances, in the book subchapter titled, "Salicylates: How Foods May Work like Aspirin." (Perhaps this lends credence to the decades-old belief that cherries can relieve the pain of gout.)

Obviously, Carper is not the only one who's heard that the rouge fruit can come to the rescue, as scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have performed preliminary investigations (ooh!) of whether cherries can relieve aches; the initial results are promising.

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In honor of cherries, and in time for Easter, local chocolate manufacturer (in the original sense of being handmade) Christopher's Confections held a (free!) tasting at the fine chocolate proprietor Biagio last night.

Now, this foray was justified, as it was held around dinnertime, dark chocolate is a good source of antioxidants, and Biagio is stocked with plenty of this form of the 'food of the gods.' Frankly though, the new cherry offering, Ying Hua, is among my least favorite from the aforementioned confectioner, because I'm not particularly fond of the cherry-chocolate combo. Sorry!

However, most of Christopher Blume's (the owner of Christopher's Confections) other chocolates blew me away, and the master himself was on hand to explain aspects of the chocolate-making process, as well as to bring out more samples! My favorites are the juniper cassis, raspberry, and the butter + scotch flavors. Runners-up are the pistachio, macadamia, and the gingerbread. Now I no longer need to rack my brain to come up with gift ideas, 'cause I only need to boogie down to Biagio to purchase some of its glossy, delicious offerings, and my shopping is done!