Archive for January, 2008

Little Tomatillo Things!

January 16, 2008

Tomatoes are one of my very favorite fruits. Some people seem to think the question of whether a tomato is a fruit of a vegetable is unanswerable. It’s not — tomatoes are a fruit, and if you try a wide variety of fresh tomatoes you’ll find nothing that will convince you otherwise. More on those later. Maybe.

Tomatillos are the cousin of the tomato. They are unique in having a papery husk that surrounds the fruit, but inside the husk you’ll find something more or less tomato-y. Recently it seems they’ve grown in popularity in the US, as I see them (big green ones, sans papery husk) more and more in grocery stores, mostly marketed as an ingredient in salsa.

The big green ones are tart and less juicy than a tomato, with a characteristic cilantro-esque tang. Pretty good out of hand, but much better served in guacamole, salsa, or other similar dishes. Far more delightful were these little ones I found at a farmer’s market this summer:

tomatillo

Tomatillos are there in the front.
One is peeled to see the fruit on the inside.
Behind them are some other random tomatoes. 

Unlike the big green ones or most tomatoes, it was sweetness that that was the predominant mood. Not a desserty sweetness, though. These things were just weird; their sweetness was dark and rich, with almost a caramelized tone to it. Fruity, but not fruit salad fruity.

More like…omelette fruity. Or something…

Suffice to say, I did not do any cooking with these little morsels. Their surprising and unique flavor was delicious and mysterious enough to enjoy just on their own, and I can’t wait to find some more next year.

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Cocktail Grapefruit

January 16, 2008

I discovered this tasty citrus fruit in Wegman’s the other day — a cross between a Frua Mandarin (whatever that is) and a Pommelo (one of my favorite citrus fruits). The signs assured me that it was ripe whether yellow or green, and I picked out a mottled yellow-green specimen.

cocktail grapefruit

Here it is posed with mangosteen drink

I like citrus fruit because of the endless variations on a single theme, the way individual tastes can be combined endlessly and no matter how unique a result, it’s still citrus. In this case the cocktail grapefruit combined the sweet, honey-esque touch of tangerine with the distinctive spicy, bitter flavor of a grapefruit. The result is surprisingly complex, and I regret just buying one because it was a flavor that begs to be savored, analyzed, and experienced many times before wrapping one’s mind around it.

The pith (white stuff) was far more palatable than a regular grapefruit, which is a plus.

If grapefruit is a perfect breakfast citrus (tart, refreshing) and pommelo a nice evening, after dinner snack (mellow, satisfying), than the cocktail grapefruit is a perfect lunch side — sweet and energizing. A nice surprise.