NorCal to North Sea #5: Strange Fruit Salad in the Summertime
For Dutch friends, Rotterdam-based Strange Fruit, always puts on some great shows all year long. In particular, North Sea Jazz Festival is coming up, with a killer lineup as always. And the strange fruiters are just one of the participants in the adjunct festivities.
But for those of us in other non-Nederlands more Bay Area-like realms, an unusual cornucopia of a different sort is uniquely available to us. While many of indulge in the common variety of stone fruit, melons, and berries on offer, there are some off-the-beaten-path treats that I've discovered over the years. Pack these goodies in your picnic basket, and head to the FREE Stern Grove Festival in SF, where everyone from The English Beat to Chali 2na are doin' their thang.
Cara Cara Oranges
These are my favorite oranges, hands down. While blood oranges are more notorious for their color, I find their taste to not be the best balance between tart and sweet. Cara Caras achieve this balance and do so without fail. I've never had one that didn't tickle the sweet while still maintaining that lovely citrus tang. Not to mention, they're usually super easy to peel and boast a gorgeous blush pink inner flesh. Technically they are fading out by the time summer rolls around, but if you can catch some, grab 'em! And for you lucky South Africans they start emerging in August!
Via Apples and Onions
Mango Nectarines and Pluots are just two fine examples of hybrids or cross breeding that you'll find in California. The legacy of Luther Burbank lives on. For those of you not in the know, he was a famous horticulturalist whose plant breeds revolutionized agriculture. You can even visit the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens in Sonoma, CA, right over the Golden Gate Bridge, north of San Francisco. Anyone fancy a mini road trip? Screw the yuppies and their wine tasting weekend getaways, there's a wider world of fruity goodness and botany out there.
The mix-a-lot produces some seasonal magic that will surely delight you if you try it.
Here's a fascinating article on Plum-Apricot hybrids and their differences.
Holy crap. Best cherries I've ever tasted. I was in Seattle last month, and boy was I sad these gems were not yet in season. But if you are in the Pacific Northwest anytime soon, get yourself a bag, or two, or ten. Not only do they have a rich golden-red exterior, they are firm yet sweet and juicy without being runny. And while I have much love for the classic Bing Cherry, not only because it's a California original, stamping the history of Asian Americans' agricultural labor in the Central Valley, it doesn't manage to achieve quite as clean and crisp a flavor profile as its above-heralded offspring. And the Rainier's ombré skin is too visually gorgeous to ignore.
So, this was the only decent photo (top right) I could find of these. Is that because I spelled it incorrectly?
These are my latest find at my go-to for years, Sunset neighborhood, locals only pride, 22nd Avenue Market. It's a great mix of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean and Asian selections (yeah there's halvah right alongside lemongrass, dolmas sharing space with rambutan), accompanying a great variety or California Produce(OMG purple kale and broccoli rabe) that is a gourmand's wet dream at take-home prices.
Featured in bags out front, I couldn't resist trying these little babies. They start with a initial burst of sweetness, but that almost immediately transitions into the intense tartness territory. Apparently, they are quite popular amongst Lebanese consumers, enjoyed with a dash of salt. Maybe I didn't get the sodium ratio right, but I like them fine pure and on their own.
Texture-wise and taste-wise, they're a bit like a cross between a very slightly sour barely ripe plum and a green grape. But if you ever liked Warheads, Super Lemon, or Sour Punch, then think of these as their healthier, fruitier, rounder cousin.
So friends, enjoy the bounty of summer. Your taste buds and tummy will thank you!!!!!
Take us out Corina!