Thursday, December 10, 2009

Brightening the Day

One of the pleasures of the season is the emergence of all things citrus. This time of year I really look to citrus fruits to fill an important role in my winter cooking- they must bring the sweetness, the freshness and the brightness to the recipes. Peaches and tomatoes are out for now. Fresh herbs are fast disappearing from my garden as we finally have a real frost going. So it is the citrus family that will carry me through, gulp, till Spring. sigh.

Now I know citrus fruits are not local to me here in Queens, NY, but they were MEANT to travel. They have that nice thick skin, like a fancy suitcase, perfect for a long journey. I just got back from a weekend in Sarasota, Florida where it rained for two days. I went to the farmers market tucked into my rain slicker and the farmers were very happy to see me. Happy to see ANYONE actually, because in Florida the weather is supposed to be perfect and if it is even a little off, people just stay home, so they tell me. It was true that I did not have to wait on line at all at the popular organic produce vendors and I actually got to have some leisurely chats with those farmers. So let it rain, HA!

I bought half a dozen local tangerines that still had leaves attached (I LOVE THAT!!!). They weren't the prettiest color in the world but I have learned that the skin of citrus fruit is NO INDICATION of what is inside and in this case it held true again. The fruit was sweet and juicy and sooooooo fragrant. Where are the pictures you might ask.
Some cute tangerines sitting in this vintage Russel Wright dish I purchased at the flea market in Long Boat Key,  Florida at a bargain price, 50% off, for a grand total of $3.00!!

I am sorry to report that I FORGOT to bring my camera. Oh my. But it was raining so it really didn't matter. Anyway, I packed the tangerines that were left over from the weekend into my hand luggage and they travelled home with me. SO when is local local? The fruit was local when I bought it and I had to come home anyway. So it goes. I still exempt citrus fruit from the local thing. Like I said,those guys were MEANT to travel!

Amanda, does any wine work well with tangerines perchance? I made a salad with tangerines, onions, capers and goat cheese and dressed it with a tangerine, sherry vinegar and walnut oil vinaigrette adding a pinch of smoked paprika. A very nice way to brighten up a December table.

Tangerine, Capers & Goat Cheese Salad
1 Tangerine, peeled and cut into slices
1 teaspoon capers
2 oz crumbled goat cheese
1 TBs Thinly sliced Onion
2 cups washed mixed salad greens

Tangerine & Walnut Oil Vinaigrette
Juice of 1 Tangerine (my tangerine yielded 1 Tbs of juice, not much LOL!)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teas. salt
1 teas. freshly ground pepper
3 TBs Sherry Vinegar
1/4 cup walnut oil

For the salad- combine all the ingredients in a bowl
For the dressing- combine all ingredients in a small bowl except the walnut oil. Mix well with a whisk. Slowly drizzle in the walnut oil as you continue to whisk until well blended. Toss vinaigrette with the salad and serve.

serves two.

I love the way this recipe sounds! Most often I think long and hard about what wine would be the perfect accompaniment to these dishes. For me, this one was a no-brainer. First, let me again emphasize that salads and wine pairing are tricky. Very few wines can pair well with a salad. This is due large in part to the vinegar in the dressing - it wreaks havoc on the palate. Second - this is definitely a fall salad, and my mind, and mouth, go immediately to white. I typically don't drink white very  much in the cooler weather. This is just a personal thing, not a rule! 

But right away I think of California Sauvignon Blanc. This varietal, when grown in a warm climate, shows off beautiful passionfruit and citrus flavors. I think these characteristics, along with the tangerine in the dressing and on the salad would be perfect. I particularly am impressed with the Provenance Sauvignon Blanc 2008 from Rutherford in the Napa Valley. A touch of Semillon is added with gives the wine roundness and a bit of richness too. While not a sweet wine, there are prominant sweet fruit flavors which I think would offer a nice counterpart and balance to the saltiness of the capers. The Provenance was rated 91 points by The Wine Spectator, and just appeared on their Top 100 Wines of 2009 List. At $14.99, this is a great buy!

MaryAnn Worobiec from The Wine Spectator had this to say about the 2008 Provenance Sauvignon Blanc: "Key lime, passion fruit, melon and nectarine flavors are ripe, juicy and fleshy, with great intensity, a vivid acidity and terrific focus and clarity. "

Deb - I will definitely be trying this combination! I anticipate another winner!

1 comment:

  1. I always think of citrus in the cold weather - you always see the tangerines at Xmas and for Chinese New Year as well. I have 2 large meyer lemons that are ready to be picked from my indoor dwarf tree. I have no idea how to showcase them - last time I made Vodka Lemon Drops. Your recipe looks yummy. Will have to try!


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