Pine nuts. I love them. Toast 'em and throw'em in anything from salads to stir-frys to add delightful toasty nuttiness to any dish. And pesto...it comes in many flavours...but none as compelling as the classic Genovese basil/pine nut power coupling.
In my garden I grow a lot of basil. Specifically to make pesto, to eat in the summer and freeze for the winter. Late summer when the basil is perfectly mature, I am in full production for weeks, smashing basil leaves in my mortar and pestle to combine with perfectly calculated proportions of raw pine nuts, Padano parmesan cheese, olive oil and garlic.
This year as I am starting my garden and rounding up ingredients to begin this annual ritual, I discovered that pine nuts are impossible to find. Due to an increase in global demand of this little gem, supplies are meager and prices are soaring. Most of my usual haunts have opted to not carry them rather than to charge 3 times more than they priced them no less than a year ago.
This had to happen when I was finally ready to carve my pesto recipe in stone. Last fall, after 2 years of careful attentions, weighted measures and controlled variations, I finalized the formula for what my palate considers to be the perfect pesto. Now with the disappearance of this integral component, I find myself struggling between buying pine nuts at the price of gold or going back to square one and developing another formulation using a readily available and more affordable ingredient.
On top of this, I've also heard from a reliable source that Padano parmesan cheese that I determined was the best type for my pesto is having quality issues that have also affected supply and pricing. It is currently priced above it's upper class sister Reggiano parmesan.
This must be a sign for me to make a new discovery...coming soon at a blog near you: "Playing With Nuts?" or should it be "You're going to love my nuts!!"
Ack! I digress.