The Marionberry is a hybrid black berry created by crossing the Chehalem blackberry and the Ollalieberry at Oregon State University in Corvallis Oregon. Due to the extensive testing of the berry within the Willamette Valley, when the berry was released in 1956 it was named after Marion County, as opposed to being named after Mr. George F. Waldo who was responsible for creating the initial hybrid in 1946.
Marion berries are a wonderful example of traditional hybridization, bringing the best attributes of the parents into one single berry (the flavor of the Chehalem and the production of the Ollalie). Though as intoxicatingly delicious as the Marionberry is, it may carry some latent genes from the parents of the Ollalie, which is itself a hybrid (Loganberry and Youngberry) developed in 1937; again at Oregon State University, but due to Oregon weather patterns, is much better suited to Northern California. But enough about the Marionberry's "family bramble".
I get fairly touchy about my Marionberries (having been bereft of them for 13 years in San Diego) for they truly are the fine wine of the berry world. Deep, rich, tart and earthy, like a fine Pinot Noir. I prefer them in as unspoiled a preparation as possible. (kind of like my Huckleberries) I am sure that at some point in the future, now that I am back in Oregon, I will get use to having them around again and may begin experimenting. But for now... K.I.S.S. is my phiosophy. Thus, I kept it simple by turning to David Lebovitz's recipe for an unassuming Crème Fraîche Ice Cream, to be served with fresh Marionberries from the Farmer's Market. Sort of a frozen Berries and Cream.
And lemme tell ya this, about that. The ice cream is positively the most incredible scoop of deliciousness you will ever taste and fully capable of standing alone on it's own merits. But even better is the fact that the inherent "nuttiness" of Crème Fraîche is the perfect counter point to the tart zip of the Marion's. I swear I could hear angels weeping for joy as I consumed it with great abandon.
Crème Fraîche Ice Cream with Marionberries
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
pinch of Kosher Salt
5 large Egg Yolks
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract (enough to enhance, not to actually flavor)
2 cups Crème Fraîche
Begin heating the Milk, Sugar and pinch of Salt over medium heat in a medium saucepan.