You guys… I need to be stopped. It’s rhubarb season again so…
It’s been a little while since my last post—in which I missed the golden opportunity to rip off Wednesday Adams and say it wasn’t made with real Girl Scouts—but I had to take some time to share this. It’s rhubarb season and you know what that means… Right? Do you? It means I’m putting it in everything I can think of. A look back will prove my obsession—check out the recipes HERE—and if I could hyperlink to the future you would see there’s no changing it.
I love the sharp tartness of it—not quite sour, but only just—because it offers you something you don’t always find in food. I think of it like bitter things, which I also love, in that they don’t fall neatly into these savory/sweet, salt/sugar categories. They’re different and these flavor profiles (sorry) often cross categories—bitter chocolate mousse or a bitter radicchio braised in garlic, chilies, and anchovies to accompany a roast; the sharply sourness of Seville oranges in marmalade (and ) or duck l’orange. They buck the trend. They challenge the system. They go against the grain. Rage against the machine. Rhubarb is no different. Passed its sourness it has a verdant, fruity taste, almost like some weird amalgamation of tart apples, sweet strawberries, and vine-ripened tomatoes. I always gravitate towards sweets when it comes to rhubarb, but it’s transitions to the savory-side—rhubarb-cucumber salad (“salad” here being closer to a salsa or pico), or as a chutney with pork or lamb or even fatty/oily fish.
Which is why I so love this soda, a riff on cream soda. It’s got a heady vanilla that’s cut with the fresh, tart flavor of rhubarb. It’s sweet and refreshing, but also complex and different enough that you’re not mindlessly drinking it without any thought. Simmering the rhubarb in a sugary syrup extracts its flavors into the syrup; it also leaves you with perfectly tender and now-sweetened rhubarb that’s perfect for ice cream, Greek yogurt, and the like. Stirring in some good vanilla extract, though you could use vanilla sugar or plunk a split pod into the syrup, coyly winks at the cream sodas we know and love. It’s so simple that even if you don’t fancy yourself a cook you can make this with one hand tied behind your back.
Make a batch and enjoy spring—I feel like we’re lucky that it finally arrived! And if this isn’t enough rhubarb for you don’t worry! I’ve got you covered with my collection of RHUBARB RECIPES here.
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