According to the Chinese Calendar, 2018 marks the Year of the Dog (starting February 16). At my garden, however, it's the Year of Citrus. So much so that I'd like to propose a romantic Valentine's Day dinner, not to be launched with roses, but with lemons and limes—and, naturally, with dogs (I've got four).
Pardon me, California, and all other ravishing-citrus-proliferation states and countries (hello Mexico) for what you're about to see. Those limes below came from Zone 6A in New Jersey. Can you make out the faded green zebra stripes of the Eureka lemons that may be slightly less-than-ravishing-appearing on the outside. Inside, it's another story, one of sweet perfection. Pink-petal-colored pulp.
I want you to really look at the warped exterior, and remember this: These lemons grew in Zone 6A. Citrus also fares okay with adequate protection in Zone 7. I am proud of my sweet babies that fruited despite adversity. Not to mention that Eureka lemons are poor producers in general, which is why they can fetch up to $6 per pound wholesale in New York.
Their destiny will be my Valentine's Day gimlets. The recipe is below the sexy-ugly lemons.
My favorite lime-inspired recipe for this cocktail came courtesy of a hotel located in the lime-nirvana state of California.
2 1/2 ounces vodka
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice (I substituted with my tutti-frutti flavored lemons)
1/4 ounce simple syrup*
Mix ingredients together in a Boston shaker with ice, strain into a martini glass. Garnish with lime peel.
*Make simple syrup by mixing equal parts water and agave (or sugar) syrup. You can make it in advance and store in a mason jar.
Another lime variety I'm in love with (not gonna try to grow it in New Jersey) is the finger lime. You can buy them in gourmet markets, and at Shanley Farms in California.
The unusual finger lime is a micro-citrus, about three inches long. When you cut into the fruit, the pulp is packaged like caviar. They go well with oysters, particularly an Orchard's oyster ring.
The best source for a finger lime plant is Loggee.
Petrina McDonald courtesy of Flickr.
Just in time for Valentine's Day, get that special someone a piece from our garden-inspired jewelry collection.