Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Watermelon "Mojito"

I am uncharacteristically going through a fruity drink phase. Perfect for after work, particularly when I've taken my bike into the office on a hot day. I'll only say that the fresh watermelon in this drink gives it a slightly more sophisticated taste than you might expect and that in public I still drink Ketel One martinis. Up with two olives.

In a break with Happy Consumptive tradition, I'll also approximate a recipe for this concoction:

1 cup watermelon chunks
1/3 cup Rum: A flavored rum adds some aromatic oomph, but is not neccesary.
1 lime
2 long sprigs of mint
Sparkling Water: We use Calistoga with lime flavor
6 ice cubes

Add watermelon chunks, the juice from one half of the lime, the mint leaves from both sprigs of mint (leaving only the top-most leaves on one spring, for garnish), the rum, and 3 ice cubes to a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously (at least 20 times). Using a cocktail strainer, pour the contents of the shaker into a pint glass. Watermelon pulp and mint shrapnel should make it into the glass. Add the remaining ice cubes, the juice from the remaining lime half, and top off with sparkling water. You might also want to stir.

Orthodox Mixology
This drink runs enthusiastically afoul of orthodox mixology where Mojitos are concerned. Those of you who have read the Lime and Mint Cocktail recipe in Chez Panisse Fruit, or were there when we developed the recipe, probably won't be surprised. Here are the transgressions:
  1. There's no muddling of the mint leaves with the lime juice. You could muddle if you like, but it's not necessary.
  2. Mojitos tend to be made with soda or tonic water - not sparkling water. But, in season watermelon is sweet enough that either seems like over kill.
  3. There's probably also a school of mixology that would take a dim view of tossing all of those things in a cocktail shaker. In this particular recipe, the shaker is the blunt instrument of a refreshing policy.
  4. Some believe that cocktails should be shaken exactly 20 times, but with this recipe there are a lot of solids to get cold. It may take 4 to 6 more shakes than usual.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Farmers Raving About This Year's Stone Fruit

My intention with this post is to encourage all of your Nothern Californians to find your way to a famer's market this week and buy some cherries, some apricots, basically any fruit with a pit. My assurances that tasty stone fruit were there for the taking last year were based on a lifetime of experience eating grocery store fruit, and a concerted few years of eating farmer's market fruit.

This year's fruit blows last year's away to a startling degree. Startling that is, unless you happen to be a fruit farmer. In which case you probably know that the last couple of years have been good but not great, or maybe even okay but not really good. If you've only recently acquired serious food religion, this is the sort of thing you can't know.

Two Saturdays ago I was surprised to see the Wild Boar Farms booth at the Grand Lake Farmer's Market decked out with cherry tree boughs. I asked Brad if he'd had cherries last year, and he said that he only got a crop every two or three years - when the conditions were just right. As I grabbed a sample cherry, he had Bings and Rainiers, a woman who was arranging to have a case of them delivered to her restaurant offered up that they were the best she'd ever tasted.

This past weekend I stopped by the Lagier Ranches booth and made small talk about how well cherries seemed to be doing. The guy working the stand bellowed,"Finally!" He went on to say that he expected it to be a great year for all stone fruit. As service-oriented as anyone I've ever encountered at the market, he went on to offer to "call John" to find out when Sour Cherries would be available.

It's not just cherries either. One of the guys at the Blossom Bluff Ochards stand, described the taste of their apricots as completely out of left field. I had sampled the fruit and wasn't completely convinced, but there I was at work yesterday looking at a puddle of apricot juice on my desk - unsure of whether or not I could resist slurping it up.

Incidentally, I did not have the guy working the Lagier Ranches booth ring John Lagier at 9:30am on a Saturday morning. Probably the surest sign that I am not cut out to be a high profile food blogger.