No, we’re not off to the slopes of Chamonix, France, for a ski vacation, nor are we in the market for an expensive pen (MyMEGusta spends on travel, not on writing implements).
We are celebrating the chestnut in one of its most elegant and delicious incarnations: the Mont Blanc, a delicious mélange of chestnut puree and cream.
The lovely specimen in this picture was snapped by a friend at Angelina’s in Ginza, Tokyo, and he describes it as “Amazing! It is heaven!”, made with real French crème fraiche flown in every other day.
Angelina’s ups the Mont Blanc ante every September, featuring a purple sweet potato version in addition to the perfectly executed classic. I wonder if they do this, or a Gallic variation, in the original Angelina’s near the Louvre in Paris? www.angelina-paris.fr
Americans may find Mont Blanc from time to time at a traditional French restaurant, or an upscale patisserie, but usually content themselves with hot chestnuts, roasted right on the street, as is done all over the chestnut loving world. And many families make a chestnut dressing for their traditional Thanksgiving turkey.
As for the nut itself, edible, or “sweet”, chestnut trees used to grow prolifically in the United States, but were virtually wiped out about a hundred years ago by an attack of chestnut blight. Today, chestnuts consumed here are largely imported from Italy.
Don’t confuse thse with water chestnuts. These are delicious tubers which grow in ponds or very wet/flooded areas, and not nuts at all. Not that most people are interested in farming them, but these are two entirely separate plants, one a delicious vegetable and the other a pesky invasive aquatic plant.
And, don’t stumble across what looks like a chestnut and take a bite: It is probably a horse chestnut, a different species entirely and poisonous.