There are those rare occasions of fleeting, lazy bliss in the summer when I'll find myself sitting on the bottom step of my side-entrance landing with a bowl of fresh fruit or something else refreshingly cold that lingers momentarily on my tongue, just staring off enjoying the breeze trip around stirring up all of the scents of summer. And sometimes in those moments I'll find myself a captive audience to a brilliantly colorful butterfly as it flutters around on that breeze, floating this way and then that way, as it seems to sample a leaf here and a flower there before finally landing to rest for a sweet second. What a wonderfully delicate creature that butterfly is; what an exquisite example of a true “free spirit”, indeed. One moment its fluttering “lightness” is before me, and then the next, it is gone. I can watch it only as far as my eyes can follow it against the sun-filled summer sky, until the breeze blows it sharply in another direction and it disappears, forever to be gone from my sight. Such are the delicate moments of life, are they not? Soft and powdery, lovely and fragile; in one word, elusive. A sweet kiss on the lips; soft words of encouragement; a kind and unexpected gesture. They're here one moment and gone the next, but they leave a faint, fragrantly sweet and lingering flavor on the tongue, unlike anything else. Their delicate nature dissipates into the ether like the coy butterfly that is tracked by my gaze and then is gone, like a whisper on the breeze, never to be forgotten as it takes its place in my cache of memories.
Capturing the elusive essence of something that is delicate and that quickly dissipates is something that I adore taking at least a momentary pleasure in. Cold and creamy ice cream or gelato on the tongue when the heat of the summer brings the body's core temperature up is something to enjoy for its softly cooling comfort and richly sweet complexity as it effortlessly melts down the throat. The blending of some of the summer's most fragrant and floral aspects into a refreshingly smooth and quickly dissipating dream is the perfect way to create that momentary pleasure found in a fleeting thing, and etch it gently into the memory allowing it to be held long after the reality of it is gone. Fresh and floral white summer peaches, paired together with just a splash of fragrant rosewater in a rich and creamy base, give the mouth the opportunity to experience cool, momentary bliss, and to feel something luxuriously delicate disappear on the tongue, leaving only a hint of its aromatic flavor; it's a combination that creates a velvety experience to savor for a brief moment and remember as a cool and comfortable part of the summer in its, at-times-unrelenting, heat and its bright totality. And what a fresh and delicate treat for the spirit that is, in all of its quickly vanishing glory.
Those enlightening moments of being able to taste something delicate dissipate on the tongue, or of experiencing those peachy-golden summer sunsets that quickly fade away into dark lavender evenings, are moments to cherish and to remember long after they've gone. These delicate moments in life, these moments that, though soft and quickly melting, are there for us to taste for just a fleeting moment to let us know that they are there. They reveal themselves, leave an impression and evaporate into the sky, leaving behind the comforting feeling that though elusive, they are there, indeed. And my do they taste good — sweet — as they fragrantly melt away and refresh my soul.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
White Peach + Rosewater Gelato-Style Ice Cream
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(Makes about 4-6 servings)
(*Gelato typically has less milk fat content than American ice cream does, as it uses either more milk than cream, or equal amounts of milk to cream; however, to make a true gelato you would specifically need a “gelato” maker as it churns less air into the frozen mixture as opposed to an ice cream machine. This recipe is in the “spirit” of gelato, but uses a regular home ice cream maker for convenience, which you will need for this recipe.)
1 ¼ cups whole milk
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
2 peach tea bags (natural, herbal tea)
6 egg yolks
¾ cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons
• Pinch salt
1 ½ teaspoons rosewater (found in the international section of the grocery store, or specialty store)
1 ripe, white peach, peeled and finely chopped
-Add the milk and the cream to a medium size saucepan or pot, and heat until it begins to simmer and small bubbles form along the edges; turn the heat off and add in the tea bags and allow them to steep for about 4-5 minutes.
-While the tea steeps, add the yolks, sugar and pinch of salt to a medium size bowl, and using a hand-held mixer, beat the mixture for about 2 minutes until very pale and creamy.
-Remove the tea bags from the hot cream/milk, and very slowly add just a little of the cream/milk into the yolk/sugar mixture, whisking to temper the yolks so they don't scramble; add a little more cream/milk, whisk to incorporate, and then slowly add in the remainder of the hot cream/milk and whisk to thoroughly incorporate.
-Next, add this custard base back into the pot that you heated the cream/milk in, and place the pot over medium-high heat; bring the custard up to 180°, stirring all the while, until thickened and it coats the back of the spoon; strain the custard base through a sieve into a clean bowl, add the rosewater, and chill thoroughly until completely cooled, stirring occasionally to prevent a “skin” from forming. (To expedite things, you can place the bowl with the hot custard into an ice-bath in the fridge, and stir occasionally to cool—just be very careful not to get any water in the custard; then cover with plastic.)
-Once the custard base is thoroughly chilled (even over night, if possible) prepare the gelato in the ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions; during the last couple of minutes of churning, add in the chopped white peach, and then add the gelato ice cream to a freezer-safe container, cover the top with plastic, and freeze; when ready to serve, allow the ice cream to stand at room temp for about 5-10 minutes if very hard (though mine was scoop-able right out of the freezer) to more easily scoop.