In 2004 the long awaited Time Warner Center building opened at Columbus Circle on the south west corner of Central Park. It housed several high-end shops, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, and in the basement, a huge Wholefoods supermarket with a separate wine store, which one colleague and neighbor quickly dubbed, Whole Paycheck. You couldn't get out of there without spending $50 -and then to discover all you bought was a piece of cheese, a bottle of sparkling water, and a chap stick. I lived three blocks away on 56th and 8th Avenue in a 300 square foot rent-by-the-week apartment (possibly renovated once since the 1800's) and so visiting the Candy Land of supermarkets quickly became a regular activity and inspiration. Not to mention they were a customer, a very, very good wine buying customer. It was my Wholefoods buyer who first turned me on to Medjool dates.
Have you never tried Medjool dates? Get thee to a Wholefoods, or Publix, immediately. Forget what you know about your mother's dates. These bad boys are rich and velvety, taste like candy, and awaken the senses. My customer had invited me over for Thanksgiving dinner where she served Medjools alongside slices of aged Gruyere and a baked onion tart. The combination was divine.
I have no idea from where the inspiration came for these Mascarpone stuffed hors d'oeuvres, but I can tell you it was a Saturday night - my habit then was to scour the charcuterie and cheese counters at Whole Paycheck and indulge in a night of solitude, fancy snacks, bottle of wine, and a movie or marathon of repeat Law & Order SVU (love that Marishka Hargitay).
The dates usually come with pits, though I have seen them pitted. Split the date down one side and easily pull out the long pit. Spoon in a dollop of Mascarpone, a sweet Italian cream cheese, and wrap with a long, thin slice of Italian prosciutto. The marriage of rich, sweet date, subtle sweet creaminess of the Mascarpone and the salty intensity of the cured ham are intense and incredible. Love it with a refreshing white wine, like the Poggio Anima Grillo or the Cantine de Marzo Fiano d'Avellino. They will definitely impress your guests, if you choose to share.