And yet there were things that even with this food-first shoes-later mindset, that still seemed out of my reach. Like maple syrup. That Canadian elixir. I'm pretty sure that if you look at it in the supermarket, then look away, then look back again, the price tag magically becomes more expensive. In all these years I've only ever bought one bottle of it, then been too nervous to even take off the lid in case I wasted a droplet (what with its street value rivalling that of most hard drugs).
Then I was given a bottle of maple syrup for my birthday by my late grandad's wife, and it was an exciting new opportunity for me. To have some maple syrup. Simple as that. I should have known that someone whose chocolate eclairs I always admired as a child would give such an astute gift.
Ice cream is basically always on my mind so it was an easy decision to showcase the incredible flavour of maple syrup in that format. Nigella Lawson has a whole chapter about ice cream in her book Forever Summer (one day I will too! But it will be an even bigger chapter than hers) and within its pages is a recipe for Honey Semifreddo. It's a quickly whipped up mixture of egg yolks, cream and honey, frozen once and then cut into slices. Amazingly good as that sounds, I thought I'd switch the honey for maple syrup and go forward from there.
Even though it's pretty common, I've never made ice cream like this before - I tend to take the frozen custard path instead. This semifreddo however, was so exquisitely light-textured and quick to make that I might have to reconsider my methods.
Maple Syrup Semifreddo
Adapted from Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer
4 egg yolks (nice, free range eggs please)
100g real maple syrup
300 mls cream
Place the egg, yolks, and maple syrup in a good-sized bowl, and sit that bowl over a small pot of simmering water. Whisk the mixture thoroughly and constantly until it is thick, creamy and aerated - this won't take a hugely long time. Set it aside, then in another bowl whisk the cream till thick and floppy but not completely whipped. Carefully fold it into the maple syrup mixture, and pour it into a 1-litre loaf tin, either lined with glad-wrap or plain if it's a silicon one, and freeze till solid. Dip in hot water before turning out (for some reason it took a while to dislodge) and cut into slices.
The only problem with ice cream is that it's hard to photograph - it's all melting in front of you which makes composition and focussing a bit of a non-event. Eating it however is ridiculously easy. As I said, the texture of this is wonderful - light, creamy and not really rich at all. The maple syrup whisked through provides the most incredible flavour - elegantly sweet and smoky. A few walnuts folded through wouldn't have gone amiss but its uninterrupted cold creaminess was perfect as is with nothing more than an extra drizzle of sticky maple syrup.
Maybe one day, when I've gotten all awesomely rich from writing a cookbook, I'll be able to live like the Canadians on the "Canucks Amuck" episode of Angry Beavers, who crack open cans of cool refreshing maple syrup to quench their thirst. One day!
Title via: Canada's other fine export, Neil Young and his song Journey Through the Past. I was fortunate enough to see him live at Big Day Out in January 2009, wild Canadian beavers could not have kept me from that performance.
Dam Native, Behold My Koolstyle from Kaupapa Driven Rhymes Uplifted...Aotearoa music for the ages. I love mellow melodies like this in hiphop, and I like that it's so clearly about this place, not of course that all NZ music should be - imagine the awkwardness of every local act trying to create the kiwi equivalent of, say, Down In Albion.
Remote Control, Beastie Boys, from Hello Nasty. I like the Beastie Boys and all, really like some of their songs but this song is in a fantasy baseball league of its own. The bombastic beats, the fuzzyiness, the ambiguity of the chorus, it just slays me. This was one of those songs I heard on the radio late at night and I had no idea how to find out who sung it or where to find it...
Next time: Dubious. Might crack out the slow cooker, it's definitely cold enough...on the other hand I really want to make more maple syrupy stuff while I have the chance...