One of the most interesting food finds of recent years. Small stands of walnut trees dot the mountainous Armenian landscape. In the fall farmers alight among the trees to gather the nuts when they’re still young and moist. They're bathed in barrels of spring water. Slowly, over weeks, their bitterness recedes. Cane sugar is added and cooked down to a sweet, thick syrup. They're slipped into jars and sent to us. This is an old method for preserving fruits and nuts — the process has a lot in common with marrons glacés and Elvas Portuguese sugarplums — and it’s extremely delicious when applied to walnuts. What you get is a tender crunch, firm flesh and a long-lasting caramel-tinged walnut flavor.
They go great with a sweet, nutty cheese like Comté. Lay a few out with a wedge, pour a glass of wine, and take in a nice evening at home.
When the walnuts are gone don’t throw out the syrup! Baste a roast with it. Mix it with your morning yogurt. I’ve even drizzled a bit on Grateful Ed’s Buckwheat Pancakes — a nice alternative to maple syrup.
"Lush, sweet, tender and irresistible, a little like marrons glacés, only moister"
Florence Fabricant, New York Times