The Bergamot Orange is an unlikely cross of orange, grapefruit and lime but looks somewhat like a pear. It grows in Reggio Calabria in the tip of the toe of Italy. This small tree has found a home on this rocky coastal perch which nature has blessed with nutrient rich soil and warm breezes from the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas. It has been cultivated here since the 18th century.
Calabria makes the most of this winter blossoming tree which yields bergamot liquers, marmalades and honey. It is also used as an essential oil in aromatherapy.Perfumery takes advantage of its ability to blend well with other scents to create complimentary notes. Its antiseptic properties and refreshing nature are used in skin care products.The next time you brew a pot of Earl Grey Tea, breathe in that distinct perfume rising from your cup and know that it is the unique essence of the Bergamot Orange.
If sweet jellies and jams are not your taste, I recommend the slightly sour tang of marmalade. While wonderful on toast and English muffins, try spreading it on crackers. The aromatic Bergamot Orange Marmalade is a nice companion to the slightly salty Parmesan and Thyme Crackers. Crackers are easy to make and provide a lovely little snack or a nibble with a cocktail.But you couldn’t go wrong with toast, Bergamot Orange Marmalade, and a cup of Earl Grey Tea to truly bask in the essence of this Calabrian gift of nature.
Parmesan Thyme Crackers
Ingredients¼ pound unsalted butter
3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
1 ¼ cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Place butter in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix until creamy.
Add the Parmesan, flour, salt, thyme and pepper and combine.
Dump onto floured board and roll into a 13 inch long log. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer for 30 minutes to harden.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Cut the log crosswise into ¼ inch thick slices. Place on a sheet pan and bake for 20-22 minutes.
Serve with a side of marmalade!
Recipe by Ina Garten, Food Network