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October 1, 2008

Rosemary and Thyme

Filed under: American Food,Ice cream — Mr. Henry @ 12:52 pm

At The Bent Spoon in Princeton, New Jersey, they serve Earl Grey ice cream, an ethereal afternoon treat. They also serve apricot ice cream with thyme, equally ethereal, as well as chocolate ice cream with orange, mint or rosemary.

Mr. Henry understands the pairing of apricot and thyme, an exotic blend redolent of ancient Andalusia. At Nadia’s table he once ate rabbit stewed with prunes and thyme, a dish he would gladly reproduce at home if rabbits weren’t so cute, so fluffy, and so popular with younger eaters in the household.

Thyme is a sensual aromatic, less strident than rosemary. In the ancient world thyme was burned as incense. Rosemary is pushy, not as insistent as cardamom or clove, perhaps, but pushy nonetheless. Dried rosemary can easily overpower a tomato sauce or pot roast.

When Mrs. Henry ties fresh rosemary stems to a loin of pork, the oven fills with a delicious rosemary smoke that transports you to Provence. Rosemary goes well in sautéed mushrooms with bacon, garlic, and shallots, in meat stock, and in savory sauces using dry white wine or vermouth. Lamb absolutely demands it.

But rosemary with chocolate??

Despite serious misgivings Mr. Henry placed faith in the kitchen wizards at The Bent Spoon. Yesterday he braved a cupful of chocolate ice cream with rosemary, a pairing that seemed to defy imagination. Two distinct flavors from two distinctly different flavor groups came together into a heavenly post-prandial delight, an aromatic combination that simultaneously cleansed and perfused the palate. The experience was worth an hour on the New Jersey Turnpike.


  1. According to sources I can no longer find, broccoli and cocoa are also two great tastes that taste great together, despite what one may initially think. I have not repeated this experiment in my own laboratory.

    Comment by Josh — October 1, 2008 @ 2:11 pm

  2. I just love chocolate anything – but rosemary I don’t. Please don’t adulterate chocolate with just anything only to try to start a trend?

    Comment by sky — October 1, 2008 @ 8:08 pm

  3. I could see that tasting quite good.

    Comment by Glinda — October 4, 2008 @ 11:30 am

  4. Chocolate with all sorts of spices are fabulous. In europe, I’ve found them in many places: there are ‘diavoletti’ in Italy, chocolate with ground red pepper flakes; Viennese use cinnamon with chocolate all the time; in Amsterdam there used to be a chocolate shop that had all kinds of spices- lemongrass, ginger, black pepper and cinnamon were favorites, but I also vaguely recall thyme.
    hmmm, I think I’m going to try a molten chocolate cake with thyme next time…..

    Comment by klee — October 5, 2008 @ 7:29 pm

  5. Remove the needles from the sprig of rosemary. Bring milk to the boil with the rosemary and then turn heat down to a very gentle simmer. Allow milk to simmer for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile melt chocolate au bain Marie. Fill the sink with a bit of cold water. Sift the needles from the milk and add the chocolate, beating very well with a whisk. Plunge the pan into the cold water and let mixture cool for about 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.

    Guaranteed ROI

    Comment by Sectina — October 8, 2008 @ 1:03 am

  6. Mr. Henry has not heard of They Go Really Well Together? It’s a…challenge, I think would be the right word…a challenge to create dishes with some ingredients one would not normally think of pairing. These are not random pairings; rather, the challenges are inspired by science and chemistry:

    (They Go Really Well Together) refers to flavour pairing of ingredients based on their content of volatile aroma compounds. The idea behind flavour pairing is that if two (or more) foods have one or more volatile compounds in common, chances are good that they might taste well together… says the intro to TGRWT#1.

    Of course, some ideas work while others don’t; I like that the failures are frequently submitted along with the successes. The recipes are always fun and even if the thought of combining garlic, chocolate, and coffee isn’t exactly your cup of tea, I’m sure you’d admire the thought and creativity that goes into these creations.

    Comment by Victor — October 13, 2008 @ 1:49 pm

  7. Very interesting site. Many thanks to you, Victor.

    The article on the Maillard reaction was particularly fascinating, especially the part about browning onions by adding a pinch of baking soda. Who knew?

    Comment by Mr. Henry — October 14, 2008 @ 8:03 am

  8. It is my pleasure, sir.

    Comment by Victor — October 14, 2008 @ 2:11 pm

  9. I love The Bent Spoon! They do have a genius for matching flavors I never thought would go together. My favorite flavor is the rather plain-Jane Mint Chocolate Cookie, but one cannot underestimate the joys of eating mint ice cream that doesn’t taste like toothpaste.

    Comment by Melissa B. — December 1, 2008 @ 6:17 pm

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