Quinces are some of the most beautiful fruits which one can enjoy. Every time I eat quince, it truly feels like a gift. This ancient fruit is not so popular in the United States, though it does grow locally, and you can find it at a few farm stands in the late Fall. In the Eastern Mediterranean and in Europe, it is cherished and prepared in both sweet and savory dishes all season long. One of my favorite dishes that I ate in Istanbul once was a poached leek in olive oil (zeytinyagli style) with little cubes of quince. The two married together on that plate in the most surprising and delightful way. But it seems like each time with quince is the same- it always surprises me, delights me, and whisks me away.
Quince is not easy to prepare, but it is not difficult either. It just requires a bit of time. Exactly the kind of time that one has when it gets dark at 4:30 pm and one find oneself wanting to hide inside. This is the perfect kind of time for cooking quince. One must cook quince over a long period of time to be able to eat it. Below is a picture of some quince I bought from the Greenmarket in Union Square. Once you cook it, it changes to a color that I like to call “Cinnamon Rose”. It is soft, sweet, and floral blossom-ish in taste. And while it is cooking, brings the most delicious perfume to the air – all the more reason to make some time for it.
I have a few recipes from Kitchen Caravan highlighting quince that I would like to share. One is for Quince and Tahini Love Letters, which are a sort of romanticized pop tart. The other is a Lamb and Quince Stew, which is cooked with hard cider. It is a quince-essentially (I couldn't help it) Fall dish that really shows off quince's ability to make a wonderful addition to a savory dish. But really, no exact recipe is needed to enjoy quince. You can poach it with sugar for about an hour or an hour and a half, and then eat it with a dollop of yogurt or something to cut the sweetness. The Turks eat it with their Kaymak, or clotted cream. Let me know if you try it with something. At the shop, we will be serving quince on our Mini Goat Cheesecakes scented with cinnamon, so be sure to come by and pick one up.