From left to right: Barhi, Derrie, Khadrawi, Zahidi, Ciré
I know it’s corny, but doesn’t everyone want a date on St. Valentine’s Day? Or maybe even a whole bunch of dates? When Pavel and I were in California a couple of weeks ago, we had an incredible dinner at Pizzaiolo, in Oakland. Highlights of the meal included the pork appetizer: cotechino sausage with lentils, ciccioli, pork loin tonnato (all house made); a lemony puntarelle salad, the lightest gnocchi pillows ever, a pizza with nettles and egg, and an affogato with a genius addition: a float of nocino
(you can read more about dinner on my father’s blog). You’d think we wouldn’t be able to take one more bite.
But we did. Three bites, I think—of Barhi dates, served after our dessert. Of Iraqi origin, Barhi dates are barely solid. You bite through the paper-like skin, and the insides dissolve in your mouth, spilling their sweetness. You almost feel you shouldn’t eat them in public.
When I was a kid, the only dates you ever saw in stores came in the orange ‘Dromedary’ boxes. Nowadays there are more types available: dried Deglets and fresh Medjhool are pretty easy to come by. But I haven’t seen Barhis here in Portland stores.
When we got back to Portland I hit the web, and ended up at Flying Disc Ranch. They have about 10 types of dates available, and I ordered a selection of five types: Barhi, Derrie, Khadrawi, Zahidi, and Ciré. Follow this link to read Flying Disc’s date descriptions. I’ve already marked my calendar for next September, when the Yellow Barhis (semi-ripe, the khalal stage—crunchy like apples) are available for just two months.
The first four types I picked originated in North Africa and the Middle East. The Ciré is a seedling variety grown at Flying Disc Ranch (in Thermal, CA, by the Salton Sea)—it’s a soft date, with an elusive flavor I finally decided was butterscotch. Isn’t that a fine idea?
The dates arrived two days later, and I gave them to Pavel this morning, along with a valentine that said ‘Happy Valentines—we should have more dates!’. I know. Groan.
But shouldn’t everyone have more dates? We now have 6-1/2 pounds hidden away in the spare refrigerator. Our evening coffee gets better and better.
I hope Pavel will share.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
[Sorry about the lack of paragraph breaks in this post's first publication--I was using a new editor, and published too quickly. I had to run, because Pavel had just given me a date--dinner at The Country Cat.]