6 bottles of Spanish wine
A quarter wheel of Manchego cheese, and
A Chorizo sausage the size of toddler. That may be an exaggeration. It was pretty darn big though.
What does one do when faced with all these treasures? Call friends over to share in the goodness that's what. Actually, it was really late, so we put everything away in the pantry and refrigerator and went to sleep, but then we did make a phone call the next morning.
When I was at the market there happened to be a new crop of quince that had come in. I picked up a few of them planning to make a chutney or roast them with some pork, but what I really wanted was quince paste to go along with the Manchego. The pairing is classic in Spanish cuisine and I was anxious to give it a whirl. I have had quince paste paired with other cheeses at a gorgeous wine shop and deli in Singapore, The Cellar Door, and on a fabulous sandwich of Jambon, Brie, quince paste and arugula, but not with it's Spanish sweetie, Manchego.
If you've never eaten or cooked with quince, they are an interesting food. I do mean that in a good way, not like how you might say that brussel sprouts are interesting, or fermented fish paste is interesting. They look funny, sort of like the love child of an apple and a pear that was sat on. They are highly tannic so you do not want to eat them raw, they are however lovely poached or roasted or turned into jelly....I find that they have an intoxicating floral fragrance and turn a rosy pink when cooked. Be warned however they are difficult to peel and to chop (Okay, that might just be my problem as I am working with really dodgy knives right now as we await our shipment).
Recipes abound on the Internet for quince paste or membrillo as it is called in Spain. It is little more than poached quince, sugar, a little acid for balance and patience. After cooking the fruit and pureeing it, you cook it again for about an hour and a half. Thus the patience.
I followed the recipe posted at Simply Recipes The blog is great, the quince paste is also.
In between stints at stirring the bubbly puree I walked around the yard with our gardener. He comes every other week to help tidy things up and lecture me on something. I call him the "Garden Nazi". He only speaks French so I only pick up about 1/2 of what he is telling me. This was the week to lecture me about cleaning something, and pulling something when something bloomed. But I also found out that we have 4 quince trees growing in our yard, a bay laurel, rosemary that had been hiding under a giant geranium, and I think an olive tree. Or something.
A quince growing on one of the trees in our backyard
Have I shown you my backyard? This is the view of my house from our backyard.
The Bay tree
Rosemary hiding under the geranium
Oh, before I forget, I should show you how the quince paste turned out. There it is, sticky, sweet, faintly floral and it matches perfectly with the cheese.