Doing the Unmentionable: Serving Fruit Salad For Dessert

Those of you who know me, have probably noticed a certain stubbornness when it comes to desserts. For example T and I have a favourite mock-discussion on the topic of cheese and its, in my opinion false definition as a dessert. It is NOT and never will be a worthy substitute for a sweet treat after an enjoyable meal. And the same goes for fruit. Just plain fruit. What kind of dessert is that? Maybe that kind of thing flies in the tropics where you need something to quench your thirst rather than enhance it, but here, in the cold cold North, we need a good dessert to finish us off before enjoying that post-coital cigarette and early hibernation.So – when I asked my father the other day if he had any requests dessert-wise and he answered: “Something light, we’re trying to keep it down you know. Maybe just some bitter chocolate…” I nearly felt like serving some of that un-comfortably dry 99% cocoa-“chocolate” that Lindt does and a glass of water to wash down the Sahara that follows. Well, almost. The point is, I decided on making a bowl of fruit salad that would satisfy his healthy diet as well as my own ambitions. This is how it turned out and I am happy to say, I had more than one portion of it myself:

Dessert Lover’s Fruit Salad (serves 4)
Syrup (makes 100 ml. – can be doubled if you like your fruit soaked)
75 ml water
25 ml lime juice
100 grams white sugar (important for the colour)
Half a star anise
1 pink grape fruit, in fillets (see instructions below)
4 dark purple plums, thinly sliced
250 grams of fresh strawberries, sliced lengthways
10 leaves of basil, chopped
Chopped pistachios
Place the ingredients for the syrup in a saucepan and boil them together until the mixture reaches a runny thickness that resembles cordial – don’t allow it to get too sticky. If it does, you can dilute it with a bit of water until you reach the right consistency. Remove the star anise and let it cool in the fridge for a couple of hours or over night. When the syrup has reached fridge temperature (about 5 degrees Celcius) start preparing the fruit. Clean the plums and strawberries and slice them thinly lenghtways. Peel the grape fruit and cut off the remaining skin with a sharp knife until the pulp is bared. Then proceed to slice the fruit towards the centre in each little section. If the sections are very wide, you can make two fillets from each compartment. The finished fillets should be long and flat as pictured above. As this is a very wasteful way of using a grape fruit, make sure you squeeze the remaining juice out of the fruit core and either drink it or pour it over the salad. When the fruit is done, mix it well with the chopped basil and pour a generous amount of syrup over it. Leave it to set for about 30 mins. so the basil can work its perfumed magic on the salad. Sprinkle with pistachios and serve cool, maybe even with a dewy glass of muscat.