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Welcome, rose petal jam. August 15, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. Growing up, I developed a strong aversion to flower-flavored food. I think it was because my grandmother loved violet pastilles. You’d come into her apartment, and there was a dish of luscious-looking little purple candies. Grape! Currant! Yum!!! But then you’d put one in your mouth, and it tasted just like perfume. You were eating perfume. Gack!!!

Now mind you, we all learned to make an exception for vitamin-C-rich rose hip jam and rose hip tea, even for vitamin C tablets that contained rose hips. But rose hips (the bright orange-red fruits of the rose bush) didn’t smell or taste like roses. I continued to avoid all edible flowers and foods made from them, with the exception of hibiscus flowers, which give their bright red color to Red Zinger and other herb teas and don’t add a floral taste.

However, I was finally forced to reevaluate my floral-food aversion, thanks to Nashville’s wonderful Turkish restaurant Anatolia. Though our friend Ben and I now live in scenic PA, we grew up in Nashville. And when we return to visit family and friends, a trip to Anatolia is a must. The menu is fantastic (check it out online), the atmosphere is gorgeous, and the people are amazingly kind and helpful, from the owners to the servers.

I love Middle Eastern and Greek food, so a trip to Anatolia is always paradise to me. As is always the case in these restaurants, I never make it to the entrees, good as they sound. Instead, I have an assortment of appetizers and a salad and I’m done. At Anatolia, my favorite appetizer is made of filo (the Turkish spelling) sheets wrapped cigar-style around Turkish feta and fresh parsley. These yummy “cigars” are served hot with luscious rose-petal jam, which is not exactly “jam” in our sense of the word but more of a delicious rose-petal honey, more liquid.

The combination of the sweet, aromatic rose jam and the pungent, salty feta, plus the crispy filo sheets, is simply heaven. And by a perfect twist of fate, Anatolia sells two brands of rose-petal jam. I finally broke down and bought one (Penguen [sic] brand), even though I knew I would probably never make those delicious filo-and-feta “cigars” to dip in it.

However, I had some thoughts about what I could find ready-made to eat with my Penguen jam. I know you’re familiar with the Greek appetizers called spanakopita, phyllo pockets stuffed with cooked spinach, feta, dill, and so on. But do you know tyropita, another Greek appetizer of phyllo-stuffed triangles with feta, mint, and dill? I wouldn’t want to dip something with spinach in it into a rose jam, but the phyllo-feta triangles might be luscious. I haven’t tried these, but dipping veggie spring rolls, or even egg rolls, or samosas into rose jam might be delicious, and you can find all three in your grocery freezer aisle.

Dessert is always an option, too. Summer is fresh fruit and fruit-pie season. Imagine a peach or fresh apricot pie or tart glazed with rose-petal jam, served with real whipped cream or Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream. Yum!!!

If you use rose petal jam, please tell us how. Thank you!

‘Til next time,

Silence

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