Quince paste used to be my favourite way to eat fruit when I was a little child. Still today, this sweet and fragrant jelly – when eaten together with a good piece of cheese – is one of my preferred ways to end a good lunch or dinner.
I have always wondered how it is possible to obtain something so delicious as quince paste from a fruit so tough you cannot even eat raw. But cooking makes almost everything possible, even little miracles such as this one.
I believe quince is a forgotten gem. True that its raw flesh is tough as cork, but when appropriately cooked, few things are comparable to the scent of quince. To me, it means 100% autumn. But it’s also an early reminder of how fast the Xmas season is approaching.
This recipe is still my favourite way to eat quince. It has been for as far as I remember, since I was a child and I would eat my mum’s homemade ‘carne de membrillo’ (quince paste), made with fruit from my parents’ very own quince tree.
I always eat the quince paste together with a good piece of either a cured or a semi-cured Spanish cheese. The classic combination is to have it with Manchego, although I personally love it together with some of the northern varieties of sheep milk cheese such as Roncal or even smoked Idiazabal.
However, quince paste works equally well with other creamier cheeses. As the ever-knowledgeable Nigel Slater mentions in one of his articles for the Guardian “I wouldn’t stop at the firm Spanish cheeses that this slightly gritty amber spread traditionally accompanies. The sweet paste shines with goat’s cheeses and blues alike. I like the idea of making a tiny parcel of blue cheese, wrapping it in pastry and serving it with membrillo, as quince paste is known, on the side.”