Friday, January 15, 2010

Winter Citrus: It's 80 degrees Somewhere

Citrus is one of my favorite things about winter. In addition to having no less than six different citrus fruits rolling about my kitchen (big naval oranges, Ruby Red grapefruit, Meyer lemons, clementine Cuties, and some garden-variety lemons and limes), I have a nice supply of citrusy essential oils (bergamot, neroli, sweet orange). And, yes, Virginia, that is a lemon tree in the background of the photo. And it's flowering!!

Just saying "tropical fruit" takes me away, Calgon-style, in a nanosecond. I may be sitting at my kitchen counter tucking into a Ruby Red grapefruit wearing a merino sweater, cozy corduroy and plush knee-highs, but there's sand between my toes and the sun is on my back, filtered through a canopy of palms.

I do some baking and cooking with citrus - fresh lime goes into guacamole and marinades, fresh lemon goes into salad dressings, aioli, hummus, and sauteed baby broccoli. And everyone under my roof loves lemon cake with a dollop of lemon curd on the side. Everything else goes into lunch bags or consumed in the morning, as a snack or sometimes as dessert. Lately, it's the Ruby Reds that are at their prime. A grocer once advised me on how to select a grapefruit with these words: weight. Pick the ones that are the most density for their size. Some might think he was shrewdly running up my bill. But the heaviest grapefruit is the juiciest one, and nothing beats squeezing the empty half into your bowl and drinking the fresh juice. Nothing.

For those inclined to think about it being 80 degrees and five o'clock somewhere, the fresh-squeezed grapefruit-vodka cocktail is a formidable challenger to the as-yet uncontested supremacy of the gimlet.


Jessica Paul said...

This post jogged one of my favorite bittersweet family memories. When my grandfather passed away, our extended family of 30+ members descended upon my grandparents' small Venice, FL condo to mourn. Citrus trees of all sorts abound there. One of my fun-loving and funny cousins spent the three days walking around with a fifth of vodka, a stack of solo cups and a knife making made-to-order cocktails with whatever piece of citrus she picked off the ground. Greyhounds made with fresh pink grapefruit were the favorite, and turned the sad event into a real celebration of family and memories.

Katie Fairbank said...

That's a lovely bit of family history, Jessica. And thanks for teaching me the name of my favorite citrus cocktail.