Summer love and honeysuckle sorbet from Crook's Corner | Food Feature | Indy Week
Pin It

Summer love and honeysuckle sorbet from Crook's Corner 

dreamstime_xl_24882476-2.jpg

It might seem precious, the gathering of that single drop of nectar from a honeysuckle blossom.

Honeysuckle loves to clamber its way along the edge of a clearing, which it generally does in these parts beginning in April, though this year it was late May before Bill Smith was able to harvest enough to make what has become an iconic dessert at Crook's Corner: honeysuckle sorbet.

What might have begun as an off-the-cuff comment from Crook's owner Gene Hamer has become a dessert people count on when they dine at the Chapel Hill eatery during the warmest months. It's like eating summer.

"Oh my god, it tastes just like that," Smith says.

Several years ago, Hamer noticed a particularly fragrant honeysuckle bush growing near the back door of the restaurant. With its sweet aroma, it seemed to beg to join the menu. Hamer asked Smith if he might do something edible with it.

Smith became intrigued, but when he tried to steep the honeysuckle blossoms in hot water the outcome was disastrous. The blossoms were too delicate to withstand the warmth.

Smith later stumbled across a recipe for a jasmine ice, which the Arabs brought to Sicily, and he switched out one flower for another.

This time, per the recipe's instructions, he used cool water, and it worked. Among the tricks to creating a floral sorbet is adding a few drops of lemon juice, which keeps the sugars in the simple syrup from recrystalizing. He also honored the recipe's call for a miniscule amount of cinnamon. Unable to count out a few "grains," as the Sicilian recipe directed, he chose to stick the sharp tip of a knife into ground cinnamon to coat it, and then tapped it over the mixture.

"You don't really taste it, but if you don't put it in there you can tell," Smith says.

A few years ago, Smith brought a batch of honeysuckle sorbet to a James Beard Foundation dinner in New York City. About half the diners were from New York, the other half from the South. With one bite, the Southerners "had a fit," Smith says, the flavor transporting them to the summers of their youth. "It's a very powerful food, actually, in that regard," he says. ""Every season's different, every batch is different."

Since Smith added the sorbet to the Crook's Corner menu, the restaurant has served as many as 800 helpings each season.

The plant blooms sporadically throughout the summer, so the availability of the sorbet is unpredictable. Some diners have been quite disappointed when sorbet is absent from the menu. "If they got here and we'd run out, they'd be real nasty about it," Smith says.

If you want to make a batch, be patient. The blossoms seem to have receded, although as the peak heat of the season subsides a few are reappearing in the bushes.

Smith enjoys drinking beer while harvesting the blossoms. "There's a million kinds of honeysuckle. I know all their habits now, believe me. I can spot them a mile away."

  • You want it, we got it: Chef Bill Smith's Honeysuckle Sorbet recipe

Related Locations

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Food Feature



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

Using a stand mixer, whisk for about 10 minutes or until Swiss meringue is firm and bowl feels cool. best …

by jadegraham on A New Local Cookbook, Southern Breads, Celebrates a Storied Southern Staple (Food Feature)

I love collards. My friends and family tell me I cook the best they've ever eaten. I got that from …

by Kitty Hegemann 1 on Despite Urban Sprawl and Industry, a Durham Family Collard Farm Lives On (Food Feature)

There's a huge difference between the food stuffs you see at Kroger/HT/Publix and the real deal you can get when …

by whatdoiknow on Mind the Food Gap: Who Does Farm-to-Table Serve? (Food Feature)

I found this recipe years ago and have made it often. Best pumpkin pie I have ever had. …

by Jan Bauman on Mamie Eisenhower's Pumpkin Pie recipe, rescued from oblivion (Food Feature)

Had dinner at Northside District this past weekend and everything about our experience was excruciatingly slow. Empty drinks went unfilled. …

by Shocka Kahn on The Restaurant Merry-Go-Round at 403 West Rosemary Comes to a Strong Stop at Northside District (Food Feature)

Comments

Everything very unprofessional. They just want to charge you an "revolutionary fee" with all the service making pressure on you. …

by feullies on Blue Note Grill (Durham County)

Simply the best caribbean food in town!

by prince on Golden Krust Caribbean Grill & Bakery (Durham County)

Most Read

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation