We love seasonal, ingredient based dinner parties. In the past, we hosted strawberry and apple themed dinners. Since it’s cherry season, we wanted to create a meal that features this sweet, tangy, tart stone fruit. It’s not easy to craft an entire menu around a single ingredient, but with some TWINSPIRATION we created a delicious and memorable dining experience.
Cherry season runs from late April to late August. Like berries, cherries are rich in antioxidants and incredibly perishable. Their intense flavor works well with both savory and sweet dishes. Cherries are grouped into two categories: sweet and sour. Sour cherries are perfect for pies and baked desserts since the cooking process mellows the bitter and tart flavors and enhances the sweet notes. Sweet cherries, on the other hand, are best consumed raw.
Cherry varieties include:
- Balafon: late-season variety | deep burgundy | sweet-tart cherry that combines the tangy taste of sour cherries with the richness of sweet cherries | originally from Hungary | good for pies
- Bing: most popular sweet cherry | found in most grocery stores | large, round, firm, dark red and sweet
- Lambert: second most popular variety | small, heart-shaped red cherry | similar in taste and texture to the Bing
- Maraschino: cherries first preserved in brine with chemicals and soaked in a sugar syrup | typically made from light-colored sweet varieties like Rainier or Royal Ann | intense color comes from food coloring
- Morello: tart cherry | consumed fresh when fully ripe | used in cooking | dark red flesh and dark juice
- Rainier: sweet mid-season cherry | yellow or pinkish skin | grown in limited quantities | milder and sweeter than the Bing | very expensive but delicious
- Royal Ann: light-skinned variety | often canned or made into maraschino cherries
- Sour Cherries: called pie cherries | most popular variety is the Montmorency | smaller than sweet cherries | bright scarlet red on the outside with pale yellow flesh | short season | most are frozen
We recommend buying cherries with the stems attached since the stem keeps the fruit fresher longer. Ripe cherries are a deep, dark shade of red. Select cherries that are shiny and firm, not wrinkled or bruised. Sour cherries are generally softer in texture than sweet cherries and are more fragile. Cherries should be refrigerated, but they also freeze well. Cherries can be pitted before or after freezing. We recommend using a cherry pitter and an apron when pitting cherries. You’ll get cherry juice everywhere when pitting cherries.
Crafting a menu with a single ingredient can be tricky. Some courses call for the main ingredient to be at the center of the plate, while at other times it plays a supporting role. Cherries pair well with lamb, duck, ham, squab, goat and cream cheese, beets and almonds. Cherries also pair with chocolate, pastry, vanilla ice cream, yogurt and Rosé.
We set the table with linens from Pottery Barn, tableware from Villeroy and Boch and red mini carnations and white alstroemeria. We began our meal with the Abraxus by Robert Sinskey and an Arugula Salad with Cherries, Goat Cheese and Pistachios. The second course was a cherry almond focaccia paired with a Chablis.
Next we feasted on our favorite dish from Michael Chiarello: Grilled Lamb Chops with a Cherry Vinaigrette over Polenta paired with a fruity, flavorful Pinot Noir.
We concluded our meal with a French classic, Cherry Clafoutis paired with a Brut Rose. This is a simple, rustic, French custard-like dessert. Clafoutis can be served room temperature, and it can be made with Bing Cherries, Rainier Cherries or the sweet cherry variety of your choice.
We loved incorporating cherries into a single ingredient dinner party. For more seasonal summer ideas, check out the list of fruit and veggies below.
Broad Beans | Cucumbers | Garlic | Green Beans | Peas | Radishes | Watercress
Bilberries | Blueberries | Cherries | Black, Red and White Currants | Gooseberries | Raspberries | Strawberries
Courgettes | New Beetroots | Peppers | Potatoes | Sweet Corn | Tomatoes
Apricots | Cherries | Figs | Loganberries | Melons | Plums
“I don’t need fighting. It’s the cherry on top to this beautiful life I’ve been given.” – Dominick Cruz