a few weeks back i met Joe during a Bi-Rite sampling session. he tasted kaffiri, a bonbon made with the zest of combava (the French word for kaffir lime or citrus hystrix). Joe volunteered that he has a small tree growing in a garden pot at his home in SF. greatly excited, i offered chocolate in exchange for any trimmings with which he could bear to part. we followed up via email, and i received a precious bag of leaves, and 3 exquisite small bumpy limes. in my passion to capture this complex flavor, i may have gotten a bit carried away: all of the leaves, the zest & pulp went into bonbons w 71% Grenada dark chocolate & caramel ganache, and into new boxes just out yesterday. the result is wildly tart & pungent - may curl your toes or crinkle your eyes! some of my favorite tasters at our annual Cousin Camp dinner last night agreed that it was not too tart, though...and later it did tame down.
Joe C has offered more cuttings in future - now he needs his chocolate - coming very soon!
thanks, Joe, my local hero!
an important lesson:
i just learned that kaffir is a particularly disparaging racial epithet in South Africa - equivalent to the n word here. research shows that the term goes back over several hundred years, and does have other correlations, but i have no wish to offer insults to anyone, so the new name for the bonbon is changing forthwith to makrut, the Thai name for the fruit. it has many uses in the cuisine of Asia and Africa, and in rum in Martinique, Madagascar & Reunion. also used in traditional medicine, as a cleanser and for religious purposes.
we celebrate our independence and the birth of the country this month, reaffirming the principles we were founded upon. one of the most important for me is that we are a nation of immigrants who came to seek a better life. we make room - though not always willingly or immediately - for those who bring their own heritage of beliefs & traditions that then begin contributing to the American quilt in all its richness and complexity. so this month is a celebration in chocolate of the edible bounty of taste experiences from afar....fascinating additions to the American palate.
so, now trying out new bonbon recipes w miso, caramelized black & green olives, fresh combava (see next blog post!), savory Saigon salt, rooibos, umeboshi pickled plums & a hint of habanero.
they all get along together at flying noir!