One of the most amazing culinary discoveries for me was the kernel inside an apricot pit. While in highschool, I had read that peach pie could go from ordinary to extrodinary with just a little extra effort of extracting the almond inside the peach pits and adding it to the pie. I was young and impatient and never made the effort. But then a few years later, I was eating an apricot the pit fell apart, and there it was. The hidden gem I had read about. I cut it in half, and put it to my nose, and had one of those moments cooks have. You know, those "holy shit, food can be this amazing???" moments. The smell of a fragrant almond flooded my senses.
While at The Fat Duck I learned that this smell is attributed to a molecule called Benzaldahyde. The French have come up with a much more romantic name for this flavor, Noyaux. This is pronounced Nwa-yoh. Noyaux is the French word for clingstone fruits. And when spoken in terms of flavor, it refers to the almond flavor inside the stones themselves......The heart of these fruits.
For the market menu this week, I was able to feature this amazing flavor. I made a Noyaux Bavarian, and served it with a Bing cherry soup and peaches. The cherries and peaches both come from a nice farmer named Merv who has a clingstone orchard in Yakima. We had the last of his seasons cherries to use, and had just received the first of his amazing peaches. So to feature both of them, I tied them together with the flavor that lies at both their hearts.
I have honestly never tasted an almond that tastes like "almond" flavoring. So when I was forced to refer to my Noyaux Bavarian as Almond Bavarian on the menu, I was uncomfortable. But we had to present them with a flavor they could identify. However, the almond flavor inside noyaux is so much cleaner, lighter, and deeper than the ammeretto flavor that the word almond brings to mind. Luckily the waitstaff was as fascinated as I am with this flavor and were excited to use the story of my peach pits as a talking point with the customers.