First cultivated in Mesopotamia in 8 B.C., cherries enjoy a world class reputation. The beloved fruit of the Turkish people, the word cherry comes from the Turkish town Cerasus. Roman soldiers marched with cherry rations and as they travelled to conquer the world spit the seeds that would grow in many European countries. The Black Forest in Germany where the morello cherry grows is used to distill a national brandy known as kirsch. Americans have adopted this member of the rose family and today the United States grows 75% of the world's cherries (in Michigan alone there are four million cherry trees). With a short growing season, this juicy stone fruit appears in North America in late April, peaks in mid July, and begins to disappear from supermarket shelves altogether in late August.
Once everyone has had their fill of fresh cherries and the sibling rivalry game of who can spit the pits the farthest (the world record is 93 feet), and everyone has LEARNED HOW TO KNOT A CHERRY STEM WITH YOUR TONGUE, it seems this fleshy fruit makes a true companion in recipes.
Just when the sun begins to blister New England and most of our cooking has moved out-of-doors, cherries are at their irresistible peak. It is time to make a huge garden salad, pour glasses of pinot noir, and bake a wheel of decadent creamy brie on the grill. A small cast iron plate such as the STAUB 6" CAST IRON GRATIN ROUND BAKING DISH holds a standard supermarket 9" wheel of brie and makes grill to table serving a gorgeous affair and clean up a breeze. A wee soak in bourbon, a handful of toasted almonds, a serious drizzle of maple syrup (BARREL-AGED BOURBON & RYE MAPLE SYRUP even better!), and just a few minutes on the grill or in the oven makes this an irresistible tipsy treat.