National Rainier Cherry Day on July 11 is the perfect opportunity to get your summer fruit fix. To celebrate the day, Northwest Cherries, a part of Washington State Fruit Commission, challenged one restaurant from each state to offer a cherry infused item on their menu during the month of July.
Walker's Drive-In, the restaurant chosen for Mississippi, received approximately $400 worth of free Rainier cherries and a challenge to make a dish that emphasizes the cherry's qualities, while also blending them with a well-known state cuisine.
Chef Derek Emerson of Walker's has stepped up to the plate (no pun intended). This month he adds to the menu a roasted Rainier cherry cornmeal upside-down cake with dark-cherry vanilla ice cream, cherry-kirsch sauce and broken almond brittle for garnish.
Don't mistake a Rainier cherry for its dark red counterpart, Bing. The Rainier cherry is golden with a red blush and has a crisp bite and pale yellow flesh bursting with flavor.
This cherry brings more to the table than sweetness. It has several anti-inflammatory properties that contribute to good health inside and out. It aids in the prevention of cancer, leads to better sleep, reduces insulin for diabetics and decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease and hypertension/stroke. Rainier cherries also promise less wrinkles, glowing skin and thicker hair.
Visit Walker's Drive-In this month to get a taste of Chef Emerson's cherry dessert. Later in the month, he plans to add a savory cherry dish to the menu.