I have to admit to being somewhat quince-obsessed. I’m fascinated by any fruit that requires a bit of attention before it’s palatable. (I have a black currant bush and a quince bush in my garden, but I haven’t really had fruit from either yet.) It’s such a contrast to the standard American attitude toward fruit, which is that it should be sweet the instant you pick it, and then it should be individually packed in corn syrup and plastic.

So, quince. They’re so odd-looking but pretty, and they have such an intoxicating fragrance when they’re ripe. Plus, they’re elusive. It’s quite a quest to find quince fruit where I live, although you see quince bushes with their crazy bright-pink flowers everywhere in the springtime. A few years ago I pestered the produce people at my local shoprite every time I went. Eventually they got a big batch of quinces. I hope somebody else was glad to see them there!

So yesterday, when my friend Kate gave me a bag containing 5 quinces, it made my day! They were past the first blush of youth, and looked a little grey and furry, but they smelled ridiculously good!

I poached some in port wine with a large apple, and I made a sort of compote to go on my almond cake.

port-poached quince compote

And with the rest I made membrillo, a Spanish quince paste that I’ve tried to make several times over the years with varying results. Well, it worked this time! I haven’t tasted it yet, but I almost don’t care how it tastes! Because it’s so damned pretty. I bought a vanilla bean towards the end of the summer, and I’ve been saving it the way I save really beautiful blank books that are too nice to actually write in. Well…membrillo was worth it! I’ll try to find some manchego cheese to go with it, which is how it’s meant to be eaten!
Here’s Quince, by Sonny Stitt
Continue reading