Loaves and Dishes

Wendi Spraker

One plus one equals two, right? Always has and always will. We learned this fact in first grade at about age 6. You can count on that kind of math.

Sometimes though, miracles happen. Have you noticed that individual things when paired together can add up to more than the sum of its parts? Effectively, there are times when 1+1= 5. That’s my favorite kind of math, after all, I’m realistic. I expect miracles, don’t you?

In food this happens when you pair certain things like dark chocolate and red wine, salty potato chips or popcorn and chocolate, blue cheese and dates, hot pepper jam and country ham and the list goes on and on. These are food pairings that are a veritable gastronomic heaven and certainly add up to more than their individual ingredients.

Perhaps you’ll indulge me a tiny bit when I tell you about my new surprise food that is a pairing in and of itself plus you can combine it with other foods and let the flavors carry you away.

The surprise food? Pickled Blackberries, a pairing of sweet blackberries and vinegar. Wait, now hold on, I see you trying to close the newspaper and move on to the obituaries, just hear me out. The pickled blackberries in this story originated in Gan Shan Station restaurant in Asheville, NC as a salad topping and I found the recipe in the August, 2017 issue of Bon Appetit magazine.

Try some and you’ll soon see that they are awesome, not just on salads, but on anything creamy like ice cream, egg custard, yogurt and the Sugar Cream Pie whose recipe you can find on my website at www.loavesanddishes.net.

If you want to write to me and tell me about your experience with fine dining in Asheville, tell me about your own pickled blackberries or just compare recipe notes, my email is wendi(at)loavesanddishes.net

Let’s just chat for a moment about vinegars because this recipe calls for Champagne or white wine vinegar. There is a big difference in vinegars. You will want the best vinegar you can afford for this recipe and not just some generic grocery store kind.

I recommend the specialty Olive Oil and Vinegar store just off Stratford Rd that is next to Nawab Indian Cuisine called Peak Olive Oils. Yes, it is expensive. Yes, it is worth it. No, they don’t pay me to tell you about it.

On a side note, the products in this store come from a distributor in California and are also carried by Abingdon Olive Oil Company in Abingdon, VA. It is totally worth a day trip to Abingdon to experience the store if you take the tasting tour. (Then go have a drink and dessert at the Martha Washington and have the fried green tomatoes at RAIN restaurant, trust me, you won’t be sorry).

Anyway, back to the pickled blackberries. Also choose the best and freshest blackberries you can find for this recipe. The pickled blackberries are good for a month, however, if you are like me, they won’t last near that long!

Try them on everything or just enjoy straight out of the jar. (I store mine in a mason jar in the fridge, I enjoy the looks I get from family and friends when they look in the fridge and see fruit floating in clear liquid in a mason jar. I just smile and let them think what they will).

So, while you are mixing up your miraculous pickled blackberries to use in all kinds of ways, I hope you will remember this quote by Noah Benshae, “A miracle is often the willingness to see the common in an uncommon way”.

Miracle on my friends.

Pickled Blackberries

6 Tbsp Champagne or White Wine Vinegar

2 Tbsp Fish Sauce

2 Tbsp Sugar

6 oz Blackberries

Mix the vinegar, fish sauce and sugar and 3 Tbsp. of water in a Mason jar and shake well until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the blackberries and make sure they submerge into the pickling liquid. Seal the jar and allow to rest for at least 4 hours before using. Good for up to a month. Keep refrigerated.


Wendi Spraker