I am back from my quick trip to China – and what an amazing experience it was. I really had no expectations – it was a work trip, and I was focussed on the content I was there to present. I loved getting to know the employees in our Beijing offices, I loved the food, the silk market - and I loved getting a Chinese foot massage (that is really like a body massage) where they kick the crap out of you, and it actually feels amazing – if you can control yourself from laughing.
So when I go to new cities, there is one place I always want to see – the super market. I know it sounds crazy, but that is how I really embrace the culture. I was a little afraid to tell the people I was travelling with about my quest – so I decided to keep it quietly to myself. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t find one, since I had very little time to explore – so I told myself not to be disappointed. After the first few meals, I was so impressed, I almost stopped thinking about trying to find one. The dumplings kept me happy enough – oh, and the breakfast at the hotel – it was a global breakfast dream. They had everything and anything you can think of – the highlights were the pork dumplings, honey yogurt and the watermelon smoothies. Believe me when I say, you could get ANYTHING.
The weather in Beijing could not have been any better – it was blue sky, high 60s and clear as can be. I could see the mountains, and again, I had no idea how beautiful it was going to be. I finished my meetings at 3:00 in the afternoon, and decided to take a little walk around the office building. I heard there was a shopping mall not too far down the road, and I needed a little adventure. On my way there, I saw a sign – for Carre Four – I found it!!!! That is a French super market that I love going to in Paris – I couldn’t believe it! I had to go down a big escalator, and then walk quite a bit through these subway tunnels – but I finally found it. They had a big dollar section right when I walked in – but in China, it was like the penny section – I bought some noodles for pennies. I loved walking around and seeing all the packaged and fresh foods – the flat chickens were really the most unusual. They were hanging with the salami – and they looked like they had been flattened and then dried. Wow.
I could go on and on about the food – like the night we went for Peking Duck, and after they carved the meat off the bones, they crushed the bones, and deep-fried them. The man sitting next to me just went to town – crunching away. Or, the night we went to a 4.5 star dumpling place that looked like a fast food joint. The food was pretty good (although the first dumpling place we went to was better), but they brought this mango custard that was amazing. We weren’t really sure what it was, but I had to try it – and I was so glad I did – it was my favorite part of that meal.
I found this recipe in Bon Appetit, and had made it before I left for China. It was not as sweet as what I ate there, but this was also amazing. Let it sit for a day or so before eating, so the flavors really have a chance to develop. I put mango on the top, but really any fruit would be excellent. If you like a lemon custard, this is your dessert – and you don’t have to travel thousands of miles to try some!
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons honey, divided
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 3 2-inch strips lemon peel
- 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
- 1/4 cup light rum
- 1 cup berries or sliced mango
Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Heat cream, 2 tablespoons honey, and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until just beginning to simmer. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Add lemon peel; remove from heat. Let steep for 5 minutes (cream should register about 160°F on an instant-read thermometer). Remove vanilla bean and peel. Gently stir in 5 tablespoons lemon juice.
Divide custard among ramekins and chill to let set for at least 1 hour or, covered, up to 1 day.
Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons honey and 1 tablespoon lemon juice with rum in a small bowl. Stir in fruit; let sit until juicy, about 1 hour. Serve with custard.
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