Fruit Hunting & Tasting

IMG_3356My fruit hunting adventure started at the St Lawrence Farmer’s Market last Saturday morning. I chose St Lawrence because I thought it would give me the widest range of fruits to chose from. My wanderings took me through crowds of people and past the usual fruit and veggie stalls both inside and outside the Farmer’s Market building. I was beginning to lose hope of finding anything new or different amidst the usual strawberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches & apples. I was about to give up the search & settle with buying tomatillos, but I never made it to that table. Instead, a strange & spiky greenish-yellow fruit caught my eye.

IMG_3352IMG_3352“Fresh Ontario Jelly Melons”! I was intrigued and it was a fruit that was apparently known by several names, which only piqued my interest more. At only $1, the price was enticing as well. I asked the young woman behind the table how to eat this fruit & she told me to simply cut it in half & eat it with a spoon. She was also kind enough to give me a riper (more yellow-orange) one than the ones on the table.

Kiwano

The Horn melon is the fruit produced from the Cucumis metuliferus traveling vine plant. It is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, along with most all melons as well as cucumbers and squashes. It is also known by several other names; Kiwano melon, African Horned melon, African Horned cucumber, hedged gourd, jelly melon, blowfish fruit, cherie and melano. It is originally native to Africa, hence, the African Horned melon but is now primarily grown in New Zealand where it is called a Kiwano melon. It is high in Vitamin C and a source of Vitamin A, iron and potassium.  – See more at: (http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Horn_Melon_656.php#sthash.2ZbRoHRl.dpuf)

The Kiwano melon is a summer fruit but can be bought year round. The ones available in the fall & winter are usually from New Zealand & Australia, while the spring and summer melons would be from California, Mississippi or Chile. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cucumis_metuliferus)

IMG_3376Now that I knew a little about this strange melon, I was ready to cut into it & taste it! The inside was a bright lime green which complemented its colourful outer skin. The white seeds reminded me of a cucumber, which makes sense, being from the same plant family. I scooped out a spoonful for my first taste & was greeted by a very smooth & gelatinous texture that retained its form, even after having it in my mouth. The taste was a subtle mixture of cucumber & kiwi with the fruity citrus tang of a lime. Adding a pinch of salt or sugar to the fruit was suppose to enhance its flavour. I tried a spoonful with each and I found it did make the flavours more pronounced & a little less subtle. I could especially taste more of a lime flavour when a pinch of sugar was added to it.

I couldn’t find any recipes in which you actually cook the inside of the fruit. It is not used much in western cooking and any recipes I did find were for dressings, smoothies, drinks, fruit salads or fruity sauce onto already cooked meat or fish.

In the spirit of experimentation, I tried out a drink recipe, called a Minty Blowfish. http://fruitmaven.com/2010/02/minty-blowfish-kiwano-cocktail/

Kiwano drink

IMG_3380The drink was okay, but tasted like minty cucumber water with Gin, so I wouldn’t make it again. I was fun to make though and yes, I did drink it out of the hollowed out skin. The skin almost seems more useful as a fancy and unique serving dish than the actual fruit jelly inside.

That’s all for now, until my next food adventure!

Off to the Market

KensingtonLatoyota & I went to Kensington Market today, on a quest to taste new food.  I had heard all about Kensington & the eclectic mix of food shops, but had never been before and this assignment provided the perfect reason to go. Not too far into our wandering, we were drawn up the street by the smell of bbq meat. What we found was a guy cooking Jerk Chicken on the bbq, outside a little hole-in-the-wall shop – The Rasta Pasta.

Rasta-Pasta             IMG_3290

Latoya wanted to go in because she was hungry for lunch and it looked & smelled appetizing, I agreed. We would continue to walk around, searching for new flavours afterwards. Turns out, I didn’t need to look any farther, I had found a new food to try. With encouragement from Latoya & assurance that I would enjoy it, I decided to try stewed oxtail. I have eaten Jerk Chicken and Curried Goat before and enjoyed them both, so I figured I would probably enjoy this too.

MenuOxtail

The meat had a rich, dark brown colour, which contrasted nicely with the pale rice & beans (which they call peas). It tasted similar to braised beef but with more of a cinnamon/clove tone. The ratio of fat to meat was especially similar to braised beef cheeks I’ve tried in Australia. The rice & peas complemented the beef, having the same warm spiced flavour as the meat. I would most certainly eat this again, probably during the fall vs the heat of summer, since it’s a heavier meat that I liken to a hearty stew or braised beef. The only thing I didn’t like, was all the bones still attached to the chunks of beef. The meat fell right off the bones, but it was an inconvenience to separate each piece of meat from its bone. I’m told that cooking & serving oxtail with the bones still attached is a personal choice that some people do and others remove the bones.

I will be back to try out the Jerk Chicken that first caught our attention with that smoky bbq smell. 🙂

My Culinary Biography

 Welcome food lovers to my culinary journey!
My name’s Jen Muir & I want to be a chef because I have a serious passion for good quality food; I love making it, eating it, and learning all about it. I also love to travel, so being a chef would give me the ability to combine my interests. That being said, I currently have no experience working in the industry.
My parents and European grandparents were very influential in the development of my cooking knowledge and personal philosophy. My parents raised my brothers & I to always eat what we were served and to never say we didn’t like a particular food without trying it first. A willingness to try anything once, whether it’s cooking or eating, is very important to me, and has led to many interesting and usually tasty food experiences.
 I love learning about new techniques and foods; so I hope to gain knowledge and experience cooking various foods, as well as knife skills and a taste of what it will be like working in the industry.
I’m not sure where this saying is from but I think it sums up my thoughts on food perfectly.
      There are those who eat to live & those who live to eat.
(I am one of the latter!)