Saturday, November 26, 2016

Cleansing Moments

Palate cleansers may sound like they belong in the bygone aristocratic days of Downton Abbey, but they are relevant on today's table. They provide a refreshing  break from a  course that is too spicy or too gamey.They're also  a nice way of slowing down a party dinner, giving guests time to digest and relax a bit.

This mini-course came about from the Italians who named it intermezzo. Basically it's a very small plate served halfway through  a meal of several courses.It's usually a light two  bite affair. A true Italian one features light neutral flavors such as basil, mint or parsley. It can also be any piece of fruit, sparkling wine or a sorbet. The last is usually a liqueur, wine or fruit flavor. The French, too, enjoy palate cleansers. They have a slightly different belief about them than the Italians do. In the Gallic diet, the cleansing plate is not only to wash away any lingering strong flavors from the previous course but also to aid in digestion, avoid heartburn and stimulate the appetite for the next course. In Normandy,  the French province known for their apples, apple brandy or Calvados is used. It is a strong , fiery shot called trou Normand,  Palate cleansers should work with the cuisines.. They shouldn't be overpowering and leave an aftertaste of their own  the next course.If it's a homemade cleanser, then be sparing with the flavorings.Don't go  overboard .The taste buds only have to be refreshed , not hosed down.

What is a good palate cleanser? Sometimes it's just a glass of water, well chilled with ice. Sparkling water can also be used, usually graced with a slice of lemon or lime, Surprisingly enough tea can also be used.Try a lightly brewed green, black or mint tea with the barest of sweeteners.It can be served hot or cold, but for fall and winter feasts serve it hot and save the iced version for spring and summer meals.Celery sticks or sliced Granny Smith apples make wonderful , informal palate cleansers. Serve them on a fancy plate after the first course. A sprig of parsley can also work too. Most palate cleansers are usually sorbets. It's usually lemon, lime or mint and it's easy to make. It's just taking
one cup each of water, sugar,  lemon,or lime juice for the fruit sorbets. The mint requires one packed cup of chopped mint leaves two cups of water and two and a half cups of sugar. A quarter of a cup of sweet wine is also needed.It 's simmering over a low flame and then putting the liquid into an ice cream maker . One scoop is placed in a fancy silver or glass bowl and decorated with lemon, or lime zest for the fruit sorbets. The mint sorbet usually is decorated with a curled mint leaf.

A palate cleanser is a nice way to prepare the taste buds for the next course. Make it a sorbet or a plate of celery. It will be a hit with guests who want a refreshing change of pace.

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