Monday, July 04, 2005


I spent a part of the weekend in Rehoboth. Whenever I go down there, I'm the guest of my friend J., and I usually cook dinner at least once. But this weekend, I was only there for one dinner (I will spare you the tedious tale of back pain and awful traffic that made me leave a day early. I am really not used to this whole back pain thing outside the context of having been in an automobile accident, and I heartily disapprove of it. I hope my muscles will take note of my disapproval and get back in line.), and my friend C. and his new boyfriend were taking care of that, so the only thing I had to cook was Sunday breakfast.

This is a crowd that does not necessarily want its culinary horizons expanded, and I can respect that desire, or at least go along with it far enough not to call them all steak-chewing barbarians (though mostly because then I couldn't eat the steak myself, and I like it), so breakfast was pretty plain. C. had obviously taken a moving van to Costco to load up on supplies, as there were large containers of Costco danish and Costco bagels and Costco cheese and Costco appetizers of many varieties, as well as the obligatory package of three dozen eggs, and the nearly as obligatory three pounds of bacon. So for the most part, I set out the bread products and fried up a pound of bacon, then used some of the bacon fat to scramble a dozen eggs.

But there was also a good supply of fresh fruit, C. having procured both a few pounds of strawberries and a gallon or so of watermelon chunks. Or maybe he chunked it himself: I don't know. Regardless, I had stopped at a farm stand on the way down and picked up a quart of strawberries myself (and a container of white nectarines which smelled just right), so there was also a big bowl of watermelon and an equally big bowl of strawberries on the breakfast counter.

Some of my friends had expressed a desire for mimosas with breakfast, assuming, ignorant steak-chewing barbarians naifs that they are, that I would just take one of the five half-gallons of Tropicana Pure Premium (Costco strikes again!) from the refrigerator and mix it with some cheap champagne. As if. To begin with there was all that lovely fruit.

There was also no cheap champagne, only French champagne that had obviously cost quite a bit back in 1990 when it had been bottled, but which I happened to know that J. had received as a present and wasn't all that attached to. So I took the bottle that looked least expensive and put it in the freezer for a half hour or so to get as cold as I could manage on short notice. (I wish I were sufficiently au courant to have a picture phone so that I could take a picture of J.'s wine cabinet for you. He knows nothing at all about wine, so he went to the wine store with a sheet of mailing labels and wrote down what the wine store salesman told him about each bottle and stuck it across the top of the bottle so that you could read them when they were laid sideways in the rack. I am not sure that I would go with this sort of system, but at least I didn't have to go pulling out all the bottles to find two of the very few bottles of red to go with the steak on Saturday night.)

Anyway, the mimosas that I made got rave reviews, and C.'s boyfriend, who said they were the best drink ever, kept after me for details of how I made them. As with everything, I made them by tossing stuff in and tasting and correcting. They would have been better with a couple of changes, though they really were very, very good as they were. Here is the recipe that I would have made if I'd known Saturday afternoon what I know now and had shopped appropriately at the market.

Red Mimosas

Fill a blender half full with watermelon chunks.
Add about two-thirds as much hulled strawberries as you have watermelon.
Add two white nectarines that you have pitted and sliced. Your blender should be very nearly full, but with space between the fruit.
1/2 cup vodka
the juice of one lime
1/4 cup sugar, maybe more

Blend until the fruit is well pureed. Taste the puree and add more of sugar if necessary. Watermelon tends to water down a puree, and sugar intensifies the flavor (as does the lime juice, which is why it's there).
Pour the fruit mixture into a large pitcher. At the same time, pour in one bottle of well chilled sparkling wine. You can garnish with any of the fruits that you put in the mimosa. Or not.

There is nothing sacred about this particular mix of fruit, though the watermelon and the strawberries are probably important. You could easily use standard nectarines instead of white. I almost added a bag of frozen blackberries that I'd left in his freezer a couple of months ago, and that probably would have made the drink colder, which would not have been a bad thing. If you can't get fresh strawberries that are worth fighting for, you can use frozen berries, which will likely have been frozen when they were nice and ripe. If you want to use rum instead of vodka, I don't mind, though I had that choice and didn't take it, and I think that I was right. If you want to sub in some liqueur for part of the vodka, go to town. You do need something strong, though, because you'll end up with a lot of fruit puree to water down the sparkling wine.

As it happens, I tasted the champagne before I added it to the fruit, and it wasn't really anything spectacular, so I don't think that J. missed out on much by donating it to the mimosas, which he did not drink in any case because of the presence of carbohydrates (don't get me started). He doesn't really like wine, so it didn't matter much, but for heaven's sake, just get a bottle of Cordon Negro from Freixenet and use that. I will have to bring J. a case the next time I go down there.


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