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A melon made sippable

For someone who expends a lot of energy on her meals, I’m a tad lazy when it comes to their attendant beverages. I mean, I like a good glass of wine—or beer, or Lillet, or port, or gin—as much as the next girl, but for me, it’s kind of an afterthought. I need something to moisten the taste buds, of course, but it’s secondary to the meal itself. In some circles, this is tantamount to blasphemy, I know, but eh, well, it’s just the way I am.

I could, I guess, blame it on my laughable inability to hold my liquor. (Legend has it that I once had a couple of beers and, with a slow roll of the head, innocently asked, “How many sheets to the wind is it, again?”) But that’s not entirely it. After all, the second-class status of beverages in my book is not limited to those alcoholic. Heck, I can’t even remember the last time I had a cup of tea or coffee—an admission that may cause me to lose, sob!, all social standing in Seattle—and come to think of it, I seem to only drink juice on special mornings involving menus and waitresses and tables sticky with syrup. Most of the time, I just drink water. I am very well hydrated, and boring. But give me a beer, and I swear, I can make up for the boring part before the bottle is even empty. You won’t believe how entertaining I am.

Now, all this said, you can well imagine my surprise when, yesterday evening, as the clock turned to dinner, my eye fell upon a ripe French Orange melon in our refrigerator, and my first instinct was oddly not to slice it and eat it, but rather to sip it, of all things. This melon would have been fine, mind you, on the end of a fork or cradled in a spoon, but something took hold of me, and by god, it wanted a beverage.

So, working from a rough soup recipe that came with our CSA box, we whizzed together cubes of juicy melon with wine, lime juice, a pinch of salt, and just enough sugar to make the fruit sit up and sing. For this type of melon, it didn’t take much: a hybrid cross between the smooth-skinned French Charentais melon and the more nubbly, netted-skinned American cantaloupe, the dainty French Orange has sweet, dense, silky flesh and a rich, pregnant aroma that fills the kitchen. Its flavor is not unlike a cantaloupe—but the best cantaloupe to ever cross your lips. And made sippable with lime and sauvignon blanc, cross the lips it does, easily.

A glass of this would make a perfect partner for a platter of prosciutto or Serrano ham, or slices of baguette with butter, radish slivers, and salt. We quaffed ours with a salad of sliced lemon cucumbers, which we then chased with warm ratatouille, poached eggs, and baguette. With the possible exception of the melon itself, straight up, it’s hard to imagine anything better suited to a late-August evening. And for a beverage, you know, that means a lot.

Melon Made Sippable
Adapted from Willie Green’s Organic Farm and Renee Erickson of Boat Street Café

This cool, refreshing sip comes together in five minutes flat, and served icy cold, it’s my new favorite way to start a late-summer dinner. Be sure to start with a cold melon and cold wine: you’ll want to serve this chilled, so using cold ingredients is a good head start.

1 ripe French Orange melon (~2 pounds), or a really good cantaloupe
½ Tbs granulated sugar, or more, depending on melon’s sweetness
Juice of ½ lime, or to taste
½ cup light, crisp white wine, such as sauvignon blanc
A pinch of salt
A few sprigs of fresh mint, for garnish

Quarter the melon, and scoop out the seeds. Working with one quarter at a time, set the wedge on its side to steady it, and then carefully trim the skin away from the flesh with a sharp knife. Discard the skin, and cut the flesh into rough chunks.

In a blender, purée the melon with the sugar, lime juice, wine, and salt. Taste, and adjust as needed.

Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled: if you’ve started with a cold melon and cold wine, you won’t have to wait long. Stir well before serving—the liquids tend to separate slightly from the suspended solids—and finish with a garnish of mint, if you like.

Yield: 2 (or 3 modest) servings


Blogger lobstersquad said...

that´s lovely!
I always have a thermos of iced water beside me, but yesterday , stragely, I made a pitcher of "agua de jamaica".It was pretty good. I might go into full beverage mode now with the melons.

12:35 AM, August 29, 2006  
Blogger Kirsten said...

Oh I am sure you get endless comments, but I am SO thrilled to hear about a blog that MORE than lives up to expectations and is actually better than I thought. Please keep posting! I just adore your ability to be real, authentic and maintain the food credibility the food-obsessed world expects.

1:27 AM, August 29, 2006  
Anonymous Ellie said...

The colour of that melon is absolutely amazing! And I can completely relate - I rarely drink anything other than water (except for my breakfast glass of fresh carrot and apple), but sometimes I'll look at the piece of fruit that I'm holding and just walk towards my juicer!

3:15 AM, August 29, 2006  
Blogger wheresmymind said...

Wine and mellon, eh? I made a mango 'rita, a couple weeks ago, but vodka was my alcohol of choice....didn't add too much flavor but did bring a nice kick to the drink :)

5:31 AM, August 29, 2006  
Blogger hannah said...

oh does this sound heavenly? yes. yes it does. in colombia, it is a crime not to have a fresh fruit juice at the end of the midday meal. which of course was always my favorite part as a young girl.

7:04 AM, August 29, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Molly,

Love the blog, it's a favorite of mine and quite a few of the recipes you've shared have become regulars in my home. I love Seattle but haven't been there in a couple of years and was wondering if there were any new or notable restaurants you'd recommend or just a favorite that maybe I haven't discovered yet. Thanks!

7:30 AM, August 29, 2006  
Blogger Garrett said...

What a novel idea! I have all that at home and it would be one last wonderful rite of summer before the cold weather comes!

7:40 AM, August 29, 2006  
Anonymous L said...

mmm. sounds delicious. I love the idea of using a light wine with this, instead of something like vodka... much more suited to a nice end of summer afternoon.

9:25 AM, August 29, 2006  
Blogger Shari said...

oh molly!
an inspired idea...beautiful in color and i'm sure a delight to the tastebuds! xo shari

10:43 AM, August 29, 2006  
Blogger christianne said...

That sounds delicious. I regularly toss frozen melon cubes into my white wine sangria in lieu of ice cubes, but never thought to blend it all together. Might have to give it a whirl -- awful pun intended! :)

Also, I made last week's tomato tart a few days ago with delicious results. We used yellow, orange and "black" heirlooms, and added lemon to the creme friache. It was fantastic - even with the ready-made crust. Thank you so much!

11:40 AM, August 29, 2006  
Blogger Brian W said...

I bet this would be great thrown into an ice cream maker to make a slushy, icy version!

11:49 AM, August 29, 2006  
Blogger JacquelineC said...

Had my first Charentais this summer. Zero to ecstasy in 60 seconds. Then, panic - 'is someone about to tell me I've got two weeks to live?"

It was that good!

1:01 PM, August 29, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Lobstersquad, I just hopped over and read about your agua de jamaica, and it sounds wonderful - very pink and very refreshing! Makes me wonder if there are dried hibiscus flowers to be found in Seattle...

Thank you, Kirsten - what a sweet comment! You've made my day.

Ellie, your breakfast glass of carrot and apple sounds pretty tempting - maybe with a good squeeze of lemon, too? Good thing we have a juicer in the pantry...

Wheresmymind, I can well imagine how good that mangorita must have been - mmmmmm. This wine-melon combo is pretty subtle - the wine flavor is just a gentle undercurrent - but very much worth a go.

Hannah, what a sweet little memory! I hear you - fresh fruit juice is so delicious. I really should drink it more often, but I usually - with the recent exception of this melon drink - find myself reaching for the whole, intact fruit instead. There's something so satisfying about chewing! But were I in Colombia, I think I could happily settle into that regular juice habit...

Thank you for the kind words, Anonymous! So good to hear. And as for Seattle, I would be more than happy to share my favorite spots! The list is a tad long for posting here, but if you'll e-mail me, I'll send it right over. You can find me by clicking on "VIEW MY COMPLETE PROFILE" and then on "Email."

You're very welcome, Garrett! I aim to please.

I know what you mean, L - the presence of wine makes this feel a little unusual and especially fitting to the season. Next time, I might even up the amount of wine, just so that its flavor is more obvious. It takes a backseat here, which is lovely, but a little more flavor would be too.

Thank you, dear Shari.

Oh, Christianne, I love puns! Pun away! And as for the tomato tart, it's my pleasure. I'm so glad to hear that it was a hit...

Brian W, why on earth didn't I think of that? Genius!

JacquelineC, I love that - "zero to ecstasy in 60 seconds"! That sounds like a Charentais, alright.

4:54 PM, August 29, 2006  
Blogger hello jamie: said...

ummm... I really hate melon and that sounds kind of good.

But, please, please tell me about lemon cucumbers!

5:53 PM, August 29, 2006  
Blogger Natalia said...

I'm like you, the drink is secondary to the meal. I just about always have a glass of water. But this melon drink seems worth trying. I've never had orange melon, does it taste like cantaloupe?

8:41 PM, August 29, 2006  
Blogger Alice Q said...

I wonder how it would be with champagne - kind of like a bellini I imagine? What a great idea, and a great post too! I love it when new entries pop up on my feed reader!

8:29 AM, August 30, 2006  
Blogger MonkeyLover said...

Hmm it sounds delightful. The alcoholic in me is curious about adding a little rum instead of wine though.

12:48 PM, August 30, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, only the French melons taste good. American melons do not. All the best things are French, and European in general.
I wish I were European!


1:37 PM, August 30, 2006  
Blogger Janice said...

My mom used to make a refreshing canteloupe drink when I was a kid; this sounds like such a fun adult version!

I should have brought a French melon back with me from Paris; the melon gelato there was practically the thing itself. Amazing.

4:49 AM, August 31, 2006  
Blogger Delaleuverses said...

Nice, very nice. I am loving this blog.

12:00 PM, August 31, 2006  
Anonymous leslie said...

I can't decide which sounds better: the sippable melon or the warm ratatouille and poached eggs!

12:10 AM, September 01, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Jamie, I have a confession to make: I'm not usually a big melon fan either. Until I tasted this French Orange variety, the only type that I really found worth eating was the Charentais, which I have had only twice, both times being in Paris. Sigh. Otherwise, eh, not such a fan of melon. Now, as for lemon cucumbers, of which I am quite emphatically a fan, here is some information. For one thing, they are quite pretty to look at, but more importantly, they are wonderfully crunchy and sweet. Very, very summery.

Yup, Natalia, it tastes very much like cantaloupe. Imagine the flavor of the best cantaloupe you've ever tasted, and then imagine that flavor cranked up a couple of levels, so that it's sweeter, juicier, and more vibrant. That is a French Orange.

Aw, thank you, Alice Q! This would be delicious with champagne, I'll bet. Good thinking.

MonkeyLover, if you do give it a try with rum, please report back. Inquiring minds want to know...

Dianka, every now and then, I too wish I were European, especially when I see or read or hear anything having to do with George Bush. [Shudder.] But as for American melons, I don't know - this one is awfully good...

Oooh, Janice, melon gelato? That sounds wonderful. I might have to try that at home before the season is through.

Thank you, Delaleuverses!

Leslie, that is a toughie! Hmm. Can we call it a tie?

9:52 PM, September 02, 2006  
Anonymous Scott said...

This is the second recipe with Melon I've seen today, must be something in the air...
I find that the perfect melon for this is Canteloupe, just the right balance of sweet/mellow.
Very refreshing, excellent recipe.

6:35 AM, September 04, 2006  

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