On a trip to one of my favorite produce markets, Garden Cove, my husband and I came across pints of fresh dates. Neither of us had ever encountered fresh dates, though we are fans of the dried variety, so we were standing in the aisle debating how to eat them when an employee walked by.
“Excuse me,” said my husband to the employee. “How do you eat fresh dates?”
“Just raw,” the worker said. “But they are not for everyone. I love them, but there are many people who don’t like the taste.”
“What do they taste like?” asked Olivier.
After some pondering the employee said, “They taste like shirt.”
Olivier and I stared blankly trying to figure out what he really said, because surely shirt wasn’t what he meant.
Then the man pulled up the neck of his cotton t-shirt and pantomimes eating it.
“It tastes like… shirt?” Olivier asked skeptically.
“Yes, yes, shirt,” said the employee enthusiastically.
So, of course, we bought some to taste this shirt-flavored fruit for ourselves.
When we got home I washed and dried the dates anxious to give them a try.
Olivier and I bit into our fruit at the same time and damn it if it didn’t taste just like shirt! I mean seriously, it tasted like freshly laundered cotton and the texture was a bit mealy like a pear giving your mouth a drying affect, just like you shoved the corner of tee-shirt into your mouth. Very weird.
I was going to make an arugula salad with sliced raw dates and pine nuts, but decided to go with something more desserty. Plus I had just impulsively bought a lot of honey. The dates do have pits, so Step 1, halve 25 dates and remove the pits. Preheat oven to 400°. Put date halves in a plastic bag (or bowl if you’re not lazy and don’t mind stirring) and add 3 tbs honey, 2 tbs olive oil, and 1 tsp Balsamic vinegar. Shake or stir (good for you for not being lazy) vigorously. Place the coated dates on a cooking sheet and place in the oven.I roasted the dates for 10 minutes and then flipped them. Then I forgot to set my timer, got distracted and frantically pulled them out of the oven after another 20 minutes in the oven. This seemed to work out nicely for me and added a candied, honey-burnt edge to the dates. They were quite tasty. Combine 2 oz of chèvre (goat cheese) with 3 tbs of heavy whipping cream, a splash of vanilla extract (I was going for half a tsp, but knocked my hand on the edge of the bowl and added a splash instead). I also added a half a teaspoon of confectioner sugar, not sure if this did anything, but I added it.