Food Trend Watch: For the Love For Finger Limes

Photo credit to dtpearson1975 on Flickr

Los Angeles loves the Australian finger lime. I’m no expert on the little doodads but I do know a curious fruit with spritely packages when I see one – especially when the cylinders pop up in multiple places across different applications. And I do know how to Google. Citrus australasica, yes, came to the States from Australia over 100 years ago, yet “only in the last six years have disease-tested, legal budwood became available to nurseries for propagating the trees” (LA Times’ Market Watch). They’ve reached my palate only recently – but in a small span of time.

Almost-invisible finger limes on crudo at Cube

The source of inspiration in our local kitchens goes undisputed. In an age where a commonplace gastronomic trend is to make little spheres of everything, these round, dense bursts of flavor are naturally occurring and sold by James Shanley at the Santa Monica farmer’s market. Laura Avery recently talked to him on KCRW’s Market Report and David Karp gives the skinny on the fruit with the “gherkin” exterior in LA Times’ Market Watch.

Personally, it started out with a dinner at Cube on La Brea. The picture doesn’t capture one of my proudest photography moments but what was memorable were the little citrus caviar scattered across the delicate crudo. It was the perfect way to highlight and accent the fresh flavors of the fish.

Valerie Confections' Pomelo Finger Lime Marmalade

Next, came the amuse bouche by Matt Biancaniello at The Roosevelt Hotel’s Library Bar. For the record: If it were anyone’s cocktails that would warrant an amuse, it would certainly be Matt’s. He cut the 2-inch cylindrical fruit in half, injected a bit of cachaça into the vessel and instructed me to squirt it and the little roundlings into my mouth. The sweet-tart combo beautifully awakened my senses and it was extraordinary to experience what an onomatopoeia like “pew pew pew” (in the non-lolcat sense) might literally taste like: Lazrs.

Finally, during my most recent trip to the Sunday Hollywood Farmer’s Market, I stopped by one of my favorite booths – Valerie Confections. The label on one of their preserves caught my eye – a Pomelo & Finger Lime Marmalade. At this point, it was none other than a sign, so I had to pick it up (and it’s already almost gone.)  The sour twists of the pomelo and finger limes brought out more of the peel in the delicious marmalade. Tiny lime finger slices were imbued in the light orange preserves – and with the help of crackers and goat cheese, the marmalade was a delicious way to snack at work.

I have my eye on these marvelous citrons. I can’t wait for more kitchens and bars to creatively incorporate them into more recipes. Oh – and as far as “food trend” – it may have to wait until next year since we’re already past season, which ended in December. Regardless, restauranteurs, artisans and mixologists have a new fruit with which to experiment.

Mentioned in this post:

Cube
615 N. La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.939.1148

The Library Bar at The Roosevel Hotel
7000 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323.466.7000

Valerie Confections
3360 W. 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90004
213.739.8149