A Quince A Day . . .

Envy, Chico:17, 6006 YD

This article conveniently leaves out the Goddess who started the whole shenanigan – typical. Still, something to think about . . . if an orange can be a golden apple, why not a quince?

Read on!


`They dined on mince, and slices of quince Which they ate with a runcible spoon’

—The Owl and the Pussycat

Edward Lear’s owl and pussycat used a runcible spoon (a spot of nonsense, really) to eat quince. In Toronto, you need a microscope just to find the stuff on restaurant menus.

Quince is/are fruit, albeit with profound history and subtle charm. The lumpy yellow orb is the very same golden apple that Aphrodite gave to Paris in classical mythology, causing the Trojan War.

Related to the apple, pear and rose families, quince contains the best qualities of all of its cousins — versatility, texture and exotic perfume. It swings both sweet and savoury, whether grated into buttermilk pancakes or stewed in a grappa-spiked barbecue sauce. Ruby-red quince preserves were once beloved in England. In Spain, they still accompany sliced manchego cheese.

Toronto chefs have been slower to respond to quince. Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar on Church St. has been known to serve quince-glazed quail. Tutti Matti on Adelaide St. W. sometimes pairs quince jelly with taleggio as an appetizer, or with roast pheasant as a Tuscan entrée, while the new Globe Bistro on Danforth Ave. whisks quince jelly into a vinaigrette for Cookstown Greens.

Yet there’s no quince on the menu at the new Quince Restaurant on Yonge St. The sole use of quince here is a chutney promised by the waitress with the cheese plate — but it was missing at my last visit.

In San Francisco, the unrelated Quince Restaurant has duck in red wine-quince sauce, and a warm quince marmalade tarte.

(Granted, maybe our restaurants shouldn’t cook their namesake ingredients. Who’d want to eat at The Magpie or The Beaver if they did?)

With quince now in season, selling for $1 to $3 each at major supermarkets, the home chef has a chance to get acquainted with it. Put quince in your fruit bowl until it softens — the aroma will perfume the whole room.

Quince is too tart to eat raw and blushes pink when cooked. It works well with apple, as in the following recipe. First poached in syrup, then sprinkled with a buttery crumb topping, the recipe shows quince at its best.

And you don’t even need a runcible spoon.

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