Good Taste

Masticate on This

Mastic sticks up the dessert plate

Mastic is a superhero of an ingredient.

The sticky sap, harvested from evergreen trees on the island of Chios, was originally used by ancient Greeks as gum and prized for a range of antibacterial and medicinal qualities. Now, chefs are taking advantage of the spicy, resin-y flavor in a slew of desserts.

At Sofra Bakery in Cambridge, Maura Kilpatrick's love of esoteric ingredients led her to add ground mastic to her shortbread dough; she pairs the cookie with a pistachio-white-chocolate filling.

Mastic- and-orchid-root-flavored ice cream takes center stage at Taxim in Chicago. Topped with sour-cherry syrup and pistachios, the dish is an upscale study in Mediterranean flavors. Also on the menu: fried loukoum√°des--mastic-flavored dumplings--smothered in rose cream and finished with Vietnamese cinnamon.

Sophia Brittan takes the flavors of ancient Greece even further at Victory Garden in New York City. Mastic plays a rotating role on her roster of soft-serve ice cream flavors and makes a cameo on the breakfast menu in a milky, mastic-infused cup of coffee. Brittan says mastic coffee has a cult following of devotees, bound, no doubt, to its depth of flavor and highly touted health benefits.

If drinking it daily brands us as cultish, count us in.

Victory Garden 31 Carmine St. New York NY 10014 212-206-7273 Sofra Bakery One Belmont St. Cambridge MA 02138 617-661-3161 Taxim 1558 N. Milwaukee Ave. Chicago IL 60622 773-252-1558


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