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."

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

Comments

A great little family Italian restaurant. Good menu. Quiet setting. Good service. …

by Anthony Dean Morgan on Pulcinella's Italian Restaurant (Durham County)

The Refectory is no longer on the Duke Campus. Their new, permanent location is on Chapel Hill Blvd, and yes …

by Beth Owl's Daughter on The Refectory Cafe (Durham County)

Most Recent Comments

What is "ugly" and extremely cruel is animal abuse. Science has shown that fishes are sentient, they suffer fear and …

by MaryF on One Fish, Two Fish, Local Fish, Ugly Fish (Food Feature)

So they want a garden. They buy a house with a shady backyard and a HOA. Sounds like they engineered …

by millertime on After Years of Looking the Other Way, a South Durham HOA Cracks Down on Front-Yard Gardens (Food Feature)

The Woodcroft HOA sounds sadly out of touch with current home trends. Family-friendly neighborhoods with play equipment and gardens--whether in …

by CCreek on After Years of Looking the Other Way, a South Durham HOA Cracks Down on Front-Yard Gardens (Food Feature)

My wife and I have lived in sight of the Lakewood for going on thirty years. We remember the Davis …

by Steve Coombs on What Do Lakewood Residents Think of Their Neighborhood's Newest High-End Restaurant? (Food Feature)

A similar conservative highjacking of the HOA and selective enforcement of covenants happened to us in Fairfield neighborhood in Durham …

by MMR on After Years of Looking the Other Way, a South Durham HOA Cracks Down on Front-Yard Gardens (Food Feature)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation