January 9 – Apricot Day
Apricot Day is one of those great days where the national food of choice is an ingredient as well as a whole food. Apricots are soft, delicious fruits you can find in any Whole Foods in the city, and are a fantastic alternative to peaches and nectarines, though they are actually in the plum and prune biological family. While you can find fresh apricots throughout the year, they are typically not local: they are grown and imported year-round from California and the “apricot belt” in Western Asia–typically, Turkey, Iran, and Uzbekistan. If you’re looking for locally grown fresh apricots, you certainly won’t find them on January 9! Check back in the late spring and summer. (I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but locally grown fruits and vegetables aren’t just good for the environment and the local economy, but since they’re picked ripe and less likely to be frozen, they’re much tastier, too!)
To celebrate Apricot Day in January, one really has to look at it as an ingredient to their favorite dishes–using it as a jam, or dried apricots, from the previous year’s harvest. Apricots are a versatile ingredient, in that they can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. For a savory fix, try the Graffiti Food and Wine Bar’s Braised Pork Buns, which are paired with an apricot chutney. The buns are well received by patrons, but the overwhelming review is that they’re nothing without the chutney–the mildly sweet flavor of the apricot fully complements the salty, meaty power of the buns.
Graffiti Food & Wine Bar
224 E 10th St (between 1st Ave & 2nd Ave)
Some reviews from Yelp.Com:
“We ended the meal on a high point with the BRAISED PORK BUNS (with apricot chutney). The apricot chutney (beware of seeds!) added a mellow sweetness to the perfectly braised pork, and the flakes on top added a crunchy twist to the dish.”–Amy S.
“We also tried the Shredded Pork Buns with Apricot Chutney, which were just as delightful–the pork was flavorful, and there were cornflakes on top, which gave it an added crunch and just an interesting assortment of textures in your mouth. The apricot chutney was freshly made, and apparently had pits in it, but that didn’t take away from the meal at all.”–Katherine S.
To help satisfy your sweet tooth today, there are a ton of pastries and confections that include apricots as a main component of the dish. Try out an Almond Apricot Cake at the Black Hound, a bakery in the East Village. Those who rave about the cake say it’s even better than the Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake–Black Hound’s signature dish. Apricot jam fully complements the yellow cake. But make sure you wait for a while before you eat it: although the cake is served cold out of the refrigerator, the buttercream frosting should be eaten at room temperature so it’s soft and creamy. Though it might be real torture to sit around and wait that long to eat this delicious cake!
170 2nd Ave (between 10th St & 11th St)
Some reviews from Yelp.Com:
“the almond apricot cake: almond marzipan with apricot preserves, white chocolate buttercream and honeyed flowers .. one of my favorites! not overly sweet and not too rich. perfect subtle balance of flavors.”–Kristie F.
“I much prefer the Almond Apricot cake over the Chocolate Grand Marnier cake. The apricot jam is delicious against the yellow cake. The butter cream tasted, felt too hard and reminded me of ….butter. Maybe it was too cold? But overall the Almond Apricot Cake is DELICIOUS.”–Sally W.
Do you have a favorite place to satisfy your apricot craving–whether savory, sweet, or fresh picked fruit? Let us know in the comments!