26 June 2009

My shot at Bella Vita

Dear Reader, I feel awkward to say this but my cheese craze continues. In fact, it’s speeding up exponentially, just like a breaks-broken car racing down the hill. If you read my post about my inclination to compare highly aromatic cheeses to different parts of human flesh – and praise both, if at that – you should then know this: I now eat cheese with flowers.

Last Saturday, I brought home a small bunch of mismatched garden roses – a mix of pale pinks and deep-velvety reds -- from the herb man in the green market, put the flowers in a former soup jar (my way of recycling!), positioned this creative installation on my hay-coloured desk and spent the first four days after the purchase looking at the roses fondly, taking an occasional sniff, poking them regularly and, generally, admiring them. But then, by the end of a particularly unproductive day, when all I did was sit at the desk, studying the walls and a number of solid Ikea objects that my room is meticulously furnished with, I found myself staring at the flowers with the eyes of an affectionate omnivore rather than a dreamy admirer. It was about dinnertime, so the idea of incorporating rose petals in a restorative meal slammed my mind awake all right.
An army of Russian grandmothers make jam from rose petals; rose is essential to Moroccan cuisine; all of which is to say that decidedly nothing was wrong about my wish to nibble on the morsels, as I thought. What I did not expect to be doing was relish the fragrant petals with odorous…Gorgonzola Dolce (a younger version of otherwise sharp and assertive Gorgonzola). To the viewer in me, the cheese offered a humble spectacle of sight: ivory colour with pale, almost diaphanous blue veins. It breathed with creaminess and smelt mildly of the moisture of a grotto. Subtly sweet, faintly pink, delicately perfumed rose petals were only too natural for the Gorgonzola Dolce, I told myself. I was right.

The moments when I forget to breathe are rare, and it was one such time. The sensation was simultaneously tongue-tickling and soothing. The alien to each other tastes and fragrances – the one from gentle and perfumed rose, the other from aromatic Gorgonzola Dolce – befriended one another on a piece of baguette with ilusive notes of vanilla and mingled seamlessly to create the flavor so ambrosial that my head started to spin.
The sun was sliding towards the horizon throwing a gauzy veil of golden light over Amsterdam. No longer was the day unproductive. Instead, it became the day of rose petals and Gorgonzola Dolce. It was my shot at bella vita.

My Dear Reader, what follows is not a recipe but only a few insistent suggestions. There won’t be better time for giving in to the floral bonanza like now when the (wild) pesticide-free roses are in abundance in the farmer’s markets, or maybe even in your own garden. I’d recommend roses of light colours -- they are sweeter and more subtle in flavor. As to the cheese, any creamy, soft-ripened variety such as Brie, Camembert, Gorgonzola Dolce (see above), and even young goat cheese will taste sublime in this pairing. And lastly, although it is tempting to toast baguette, cut in thin rounds, before spreading it with the cheese, it is better to restrain doing so, because when toasted, the flavor of the bread’s crust will be too intense to let you appreciate the etherial flavours of the cheese and rose petals together. Anyway, you just try. You should.


Anna said...

wow, how beautiful. i love how delicate and subtle, yet rich and decadent it sounds! you sure do have have a knack for great pairings. i hope your rustic bread turned out great and that you were able to slow down for just a bit, anya!

toni said...

Anya, in a million years I could never come up with something like this. I've eaten nasturtiums, but never roses - or should I say never roses directly. I've eaten things that have been made with roses, but to put the petals on something and eat it? Wow! Now I know I must try it!

Tiina said...

That is simply beauty on a plate, Anya! Gorgeous dish!


Tiina said...

Anya, have you heard already that Eat, Pray, Love is going to be made into a film starring Julia Roberts? I just found out through a post in another blog.