Market Report: Cathy Asapahu creates a dessert tasting to celebrate the Lunar New Year

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Christine Brown of Rincon Del Mar Ranch brings cherimoyas to market. Photo by Gillian Ferguson/KCRW

Pastry chef Cathy Asapahu co-owns Ayara Thai, a Westchester restaurant that her family has operated for almost 20 years. Through the end of February, she's offering a limited run dessert tasting available on Friday and Saturday nights.

The tasting is three courses along with petit fours and an optional drink pairing. It starts with a savory nam pla waan dessert that involves a fish sauce dip caramelized with shallots and chilis and served with green apples. A sorbet made from Hawthorne berries, which Asapahu says taste like rhubarb, acts as a palate cleanser.

Cathy Asapahu fills her cart with market produce, including Hawthorne berries, which she uses in her dessert tasting at Ayara Thai. Photo by Gillian Ferguson/KCRW

While farmers recover from the epic rainstorm that hit Southern California this week, Christine Brown of Rincon Del Mar Ranch in Carpinteria says that wind is a greater threat to the cherimoyas she brings to market. Light green in color and textured with thumbprint-like scales, the varieties of the fruit have subtle flavor differences that range from a mango sweetness to a smooth, vanilla taste. A tremendous amount of work goes into producing cherimoyas, which can take five years to grow from seed and are pollinated by hand. Brown recommends letting your cherimoyas ripen like a peach before eating. 

The palate cleanser in Cathy Asapahu's dessert tasting features Hawthorne berries, which have a flavor similar to rhubarb. Photo courtesy of Ayara Thai.