Behind the Chateau, on the property grounds, is an orchard. I first discovered the grove of apple, plum and pear trees when I was student, exploring this little world that enveloped the students.
The property isn’t expansive by any means, but it’s just big enough, with just enough foliage, that you can lose yourself, if only for a moment. Each small discovery is like a little treasure – finding apple and pear trees, noticing walnuts hidden in the grass, bushes filled with tiny jewel like blackberries, and there, in the vines crawling up the Chateau walls, grapes. And best of all, the quince tree that stands in the front courtyard.
My introduction to quince fruit was more akin to mis-communication than appreciation. You see, we thought that the quince fruit wasn’t really quince, but pears. Disgusting, fuzzy pears, actually. It wasn’t until after a disappointing mouthful of the raw fruit that we found out its true identity. And that it is absolutely necessary to cook those suckers before eating them.
This Fall, I decided to conquer the quince, waiting until it was ripe (and fuzz free), and poaching them in a sugary, cinnamon, vanilla syrup.
I learned in my extensive quince research (read: googling ‘quince recipes’) that quince was the ‘apple’ that Paris gave Helen of Troy, and I completely understand why. While horrible to eat raw, the smell of a quince fruit is intoxicatingly fragrant. I’ve kept a few on my window ledge in my kitchen.
And man oh man, sweet smell of the fruit coupled with the fresh fall air just makes my heart sing.