“There are almond trees!”
And myMEGusta cannot resist any food that is there for the picking, whether chanterelles in the woods or blackberries glistening in the sun.
She really misses living in central New Jersey where U-Pick-It farms could be found in abundance, two favorites being Giamarese Farm in East Brunswick (http://www.giamaresefarm.com/) and Stultz Farm in Cranbury (http://www.stultsfarm.com/).
Even these excellent farms did not have almonds on the hoof. But there they were in Mallorca, a nutty abundance sitting in trees, beckoning to be plucked down, cracked, and enjoyed.
What fun! Just a little reaching and smacking with a rock were the two tasks separating myMEGusta from a delicious treat to share.
Alas, part one of the story ends here. These were bitter almonds, which myMEGusta had heard about but never encountered, not edible, even potentially poisonous. They can be processed and made into almond extract, but these specimens all got tossed after one little taste (and spit and rinse).
Part two of the almond saga is much happier!
It is called gató d’Ametlla, a rich Mallorcan cake made primarily of ground almonds and eggs, seasoned with a little lemon zest, cinnamon and vanilla extract (although I suspect that every cook has her/his own variation, and they are all delicious), and served with confectioners’ sugar. There seems to be a debate as to whether or not it needs flour, with the flourless contingent reminding everyone that it’s gluten free without it.
The cake was a particularly delicious treat because it was part of a special birthday surprise concluding a spectacular paella dinner at Restaurante S’Arrosseria in a seaside village, Sant Jordi, Mallorca.
The almond story could go forever: Marcona almonds from Spain, ground almond ice cream at Madu in Istanbul, hickory smoked almonds, sole amandine, almond croissants, the humble Almond Joy (OK mostly coconut) and on and on.
Coming soon: “There are fig trees!”