Monday, May 14, 2007
The early growing season gives us many beautiful blooming buds to stop and view…sit under a gentle rain of pink cherry blossoms and ponder the day…. apple and peach blossoms promising, if all goes well, a fruitful plate later on…. the fragrant bath of the lilac... all inform my springtime walks.
Shopping expeditions tend to be more on the green side given that there are very few early fruits and vegetables that come outside this tint. However, Mother Nature does have a generous spirit and clearly a desire to keep us on a tethered hook for the rosy allure of rhubarb vies for our attention at this time.
Eating only the stalk of the plant (as the leaves are toxic) gives a splash of color, if somewhat muted. Its mouth feel is as aggressive as its color in a sea of jade. It is traditional to cook the stalks with copious quantities of sugar to balance its sourness and make a pie. Though I’ve bored of this single idea, and started making it into chutney-- fantastic on grilled meats. But my favorite application came during a nocturnal repose – a beverage that was inspired by the taste of Campari.
Rhubarb Aperitif - yeilds approx. 3 liters
1 whole nutmeg
2 teaspoon whole clove
4 whole star anise
2 teaspoon mace blades
1 teaspoon fennel seed
2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3 1/2 pounds rhubarb - leaves discarded, stalks washed and cut into 1 inches pieces
2 bottles (750 ml) dry white wine - such as an Alsace Gewurztraminer
2 cups pure grain alcohol
1 cup bottled water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
In a 2 gallon glass jar with a tight fitting lid add the nutmeg, clove, star anise, mace, fennel seeds, black peppercorns, rhubarb, wine and pure grain alcohol. Place in a cool dark place for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain through a colander lined with a few layers of cheesecloth into a clean 2 gallon glass jar.
Mix the sugar, water and pomegranate molasses together in a small sauce pan, and warm over a medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Cool the mixture completely and then add into the rhubarb infusion. Stir to thoroughly combine and allow to sit in a cool dark place for one week.
Serve in shot glass or sip over ice with a splash of sparkling water.