Look, when you’ve been 26 as long as I have, which is about 48 hours now, you learn some things, okay? Like…I may get older, but it looks like I’ll never grow out of being deeply clumsy (spilled lemonade all over a Settlers of Catan game.) Or being forgetful (I forgot something, I forget what.) Or being unable to follow a list of tasks I set myself. (Probably don’t need to provide an example for that one.) Or overthinking things. (I really overthought some things.) But also I was reminded of the greatness that is real friends, the loyalty of family, and how singularly and strangely well Tim and I get on. Yes, all of that in 48 hours.
Me on my birthday, in some of my favourite clothes. (Apparently I turned 26 in 1991.)
It wouldn’t be much of a celebration without ice cream, that foodstuff that I have so much love for.
As well as my birthday happening (and being absolutely over now, so I should really probably let it go already) another joyous time is upon us: feijoa season. There are those who say it’s like a reward for the cold weather but I’m the weirdo who actually loves the snappy chill of autumn and winter – slow-cooked stews; hearty warming soups; soft cosy woolly jumpers and socks; wrapping yourself in blankets; watching entire seasons of important TV shows; scarves; old-timey puddings; rain on the roof; the unbeatable unity of complaining about bad weather with strangers or those you struggle to make small talk with any other time of year. And there’s feijoas.
These edible jewels are well known in New Zealand but if you’re not from round these parts: imagine an egg-shaped, rough-skinned green fruit which you cut in half to scoop the insides out with a teaspoon – like a passionfruit. The texture is like that of canned pears and the flavour is intoxicatingly elusive. Like pear and old-fashioned grape and maybe a hint of elderflower or strawberry? It’s fizzingly tart yet fragrantly sweet. It’s so beautiful.
And it works brilliantly in ice cream, as I found out this week. As always with my recipes, you don’t need an ice cream maker to do this. In fact this is one of my simplest ice cream methods yet. Only a couple of ingredients, a bit of a blast in the food processor, and you’re done. Yet my reasons for making it this way are highly purposeful. Feijoas have a slightly gritty texture and I didn’t want to add to that with granulated sugar. Condensed milk smooths it all out and gives the ice cream itself a fantastic texture. To that I added lime juice to point up the feijoa’s own flavour, in the way you’d add salt to a tomato. To counteract all the sweetness of the condensed milk, and to reflect the tartness of the fruit, I used thick, creamy Greek yoghurt. And that’s it.
Feijoa Ice Cream
A recipe by myself.
15 or so ripe feijoas
1 tin condensed milk
2 tablespoons lime juice
250ml/1 cup thick plain Greek yoghurt
Halve the feijoas and scoop out the flesh, tipping it all into the bowl of a food processor. Blend it thoroughly with the condensed milk and lime juice till well pureed. Then add the yoghurt and continue to blend till it is, uh, blended. Scrape into a freezer-proof container and put it in the freezer. Don’t worry about stirring it as it freezes, just let it do its thing. Allow to soften out of the fridge for about ten minutes before you serve it.
– If you don’t have a food processor, don’t feel like you can’t make this. Either use one of those stick blenders for soup or a just fork and some extra effort to mash up the fruit – the texture will be a bit different but it’s all good.
– I know it asks for a lot of feijoas, but who goes looking for feijoa recipes to just use up one or two? This is for my people with plastic bags heaving with fruit from their aunty/kindly neighbour/roadside stall!
-I try not to be fussy about ingredients but I am about the yoghurt here – if you use anything other than thick Greek yoghurt the texture will be compromised significantly and it just won’t taste as good. If you can’t find that yoghurt I’d use the same amount of regular cream instead.
I think this is made even more delicious because of how little effort you have to put into it. The tiny burst of lime brightens and emboldens the fragrant feijoa flavour and the condensed milk gives it this incredible texture, interrupted by the ever-so-slight grit of the feijoa seeds. The only thing is that it has a slightly weird colour – beige-ish, I’d say? But the flavour is so shiningly, adamantly feijoa-esque that you can either overlook it or dump a ton of food colouring in there to suit yourself.
Just know: it’s wildly delicious. If you can’t access feijoas for whatever reason, I’d substitute two tins of drained canned pears. In fact I might try that myself as well, because it sounds so good in its own right.
Tim and I went to The Ambeli for my birthday, which is this swanky award-winning restaurant that I’ve been longing to go to. I don’t mean to sound like a naive rube, but the prices – admittedly more the wine than the food – were fairly faint-making and I sat there in my seat suddenly feeling like I didn’t belong there at all. However, emboldened by a few things (“Birthday!” “We haven’t gone to dinner in forever!” “it IS legal to charge this much!” “Be cool!”) I settled down and we ended up having a completely splendid time. If you’re rich or at least feeling that way, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Every element of the food was intensely exquisite, so that you wanted to eat it very slowly and taste every ingredient in every mouthful and then write an essay on your feelings about it. The wait staff were astute, lively and knowledgeable. The wine made us super talkative, you know, where you’re nodding along heartily because everything is so important and meaningful (I’d like to think we can be that without the wine.) We left with the sadness that a birthday comes but once a year, and also happily full and tipsy and analysing the food like it was some kind of intelligent movie we’d just been to see.
The next morning I had ice cream for breakfast. And it was good.
Title via: Without Love, featuring a young – well, younger – Aaron Tveit, from the musical Hairspray. The local musical theatre company is going to be putting on a production of it later this year, I am so very excited.
Lianne Las Halvas, Forget. I love the scratchy strumming that loops round it and the equally looping chorus – it’s kind of understated and wacky at the same time. And Lianne has amazing clothes. So.
SWV, Co-Sign. New SWV! Which I couldn’t find on YouTube for ages because I kept searching for SVW by mistake. It’s never easy to capture prior magic, especially from a land as long ago as the 90s, but I like what they’ve done here.
Next time: I still haven’t made anything from my Little and Friday cookbook – for shame! Need to change this soon, since I love baking and it is full of baking and all.