One of my favorite parts about eating locally and seasonally is how often my favorite food changes. Four times a year California transitions from season to season and my appetite fancies something new. Autumn, winter, spring and summer offer something spectacular every year, which means every year I have four new favorite foods. What I enjoyed one winter isn’t the same as the previous winter. I admittedly talk about the vintage of fruits and vegetables: remember the ’09 dry farmed tomatoes? Such a great year for tomatoes, that 2009.
The late summer of 2011, however, is all about the melons, who are making a tremendous come back after a so-so harvest last year. If you haven’t had one yet, now is the time as they are at the peak of their harvest. We have a fantastic melon display in our produce section, which I find myself staring at quite often, day dreaming of each kind. Simon and Matt, our produce buyers, have sourced the best varietals: the firmer, buttery Piel de Sapos, the lightly sweet yellow watermelons, and oh, the complex Haogens! (to name a few.) Just lift a melon up to your nose and you’ll discover how fragrant they are. The ’11 melons are the best in years.
A few weekends ago, my fellow cashier Rebecca and I decided to go out dancing on a fairly warm Saturday afternoon. In order to inspire our feet to do some festive shuffling, we prescribed ourselves some tequila. I’ve been really fond of the Fortaleza tequilas that we carry here at Bi-Rite. They’re very traditionally made: the agaves are all grown on-site, horses still drag a heavy, stone tahon which crushes piñas, or agave hearts, to release their sugars and the bottles are all hand blown and decorated with hand-carved wooden piñas. The entire operation is completed in one plantation, producing an authentic, high-quality tequila.
We carry Fortaleza’s entire trifecta: the young blanco, slightly aged reposado, and the mature añejo. Those who like to sip tequila should try the añejo, with its creamy mouth feel and cinnamon-filled nose. The reposado can make for a killer margarita since it imparts a subtle vanilla flavor. The blanco, however, is perfect for mixing with those floral melons I wrote about earlier. Fortaleza Blanco adds just enough agave without overwhelming the taste of the melons.
1 Full Belly Farm Charantais melon
1/2 Full Belly Farm Cantaloupe (note: sub any melons you like in this recipe!)
3 oz. Fortaleza Blanco
½ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
One dash of Angostura Orange bitters
Sprigs of fresh mint (for garnish)
Halve the melons and remove any seeds. Scoop the melons’ flesh either into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add lime juice, tequila, bitters, mix. Serve in a highball with a mint garnish.*
*A few notes: Let me first admit that Rebecca and I ended up adding a bit more tequila than just 3 ounces, so feel free to taste and adjust as desired. We also served the cocktail at room temperature, but if you’d like something chilled I’d suggest crushing about half a tray of ice to mix with the drink. Lastly, I did not name the drink after myself: I left this decision up to my coworkers who chose its name (I favored the name “The Canta-Loopy.”)