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Persimmon’s bittersweet symphony

Mythologically speaking, persimmons are a symbol of enlightenment. Bitter and acrid (with ignorance) at first and maturing into a mellow sweet phase (of wisdom), these fruits are a metaphor for a life of learning and growing, or at least mellowing out. One variety, the Hachiya, has to be especially ripe before eating. The Fuyu can be eaten before it’s ripe for a taste of that bitterness.

Persimmon salad and whipped ricotta with dandelion, preserved cherries and crispy lentils

Suzanne Lanza

Suzanne Goin, chef/co-owner, Tavern, Los Angeles

Price: $16

Tavern brought in the new year with a glamorous Casino Royale night four-course dinner that included a cool salad-and-cheese pairing, a beet and burrata salad with wild herbs, hazelnuts and black-truffle vinaigrette. Carrying that thought process over to the current menu, Suzanne Goin, who along with James Beard award-winning restaurateur Caroline Styne operates LA’s The Lucques Group, brought together persimmons with cloud-like ricotta and took it down to earth with the crunch of fried lentils. Dandelion greens and preserved cherries make up the dark-forest background flavors.

Pan-fried poussin, sunchokes, persimmons, chicory and shrimp butter

Pammy’s

Christopher Willis, chef, Pammy’s, Cambridge, Mass.

Price: $30

Pammy’s, named for co-owner and wife of Chef Chris, Pam Willis, is meant to be an extension of the couple’s living room in the collegiate streets of Cambridge, comfy and homey. But the restaurant’s air of sophistication can’t stay hidden for long, as dishes like this chicken plate showcase the chef’s chops, from his work at Rialto, Clio, Café Gray, Sfoglia and ABC Cocina. Here, chicory plays into persimmon’s bitter side and shrimp butter sweetens the deal.

Persimmon funnel cake

Pacific Park

Paul Ganica, director of food and beverage, Pacific Park, Santa Monica, Calif.

Price: $9

This isn’t your average carnival funnel cake. After all, most carney cakes don’t come with persimmons — or their own hashtag (#SMRestaurantWeek) — and most carnivals aren’t as picturesque as the iconic Santa Monica Pier. The hashtag represented Pacific Park’s invite for guests to share photos of this dessert, which was featured during Santa Monica Restaurant Week, a dining campaign by Santa Monica Travel & Tourism. This year, the whole week was centered around one ingredient: the persimmon. 

Persimmon pizza

LEYE

John Mahin, chef, Stella Barra Pizzeria, Santa Monica, Calif.

Price: $18.95

Another participant in Santa Monica Restaurant Week’s persimmon fest, Lettuce Entertain You’s artisanal pizza place Stella Barra, got their persimmon on with this LTO pizza. Persimmons get fired up and cozy with taleggio cheese, Fresno chili, a handful of fresh herbs and bacon from San Francisco Bay area veteran smoke shop Hobbs’ Applewood Smoked Meats. 

TAGS: Chefs Owners
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