Blech. June hit like the slap of a damp sweatsock and it doesn’t seem to be getting any cooler, so I’ve decided to expand on my recent roundup of refreshing global sodas. This week, it’s non-carbonated slakers, and I’ll be mostly pulling from South of the Border, though I do have a little surprise from the steamy Indian subcontinent:
• Horchata at Paleteria Fernandez
This is the entry-level, ever-present agua fresca. The Mexican version is simply cool, silky rice milk seasoned with cinnamon and sometimes vanilla—though you can find alternate recipes from other countries that substitute almond milk for rice milk. (The European, almond-based analog is called orgeat.) Try to imagine horchata as icy, liquid rice pudding; it’s rich and feels a bit sinful, almost like a shake.
• Fresco de Chian at La Pupusa Loco
Made from chia seeds (from chian fruit), which are used in Costa Rica as a digestive aid, the pulpy seeds give an intriguing texture to this sugary agua fresca. You can see the tiny, gelatinous seeds in this artificially dyed, winey purple drink.
• Jamaica at La Flor De Michoacan
Probably number two in the top ten aguas frescas, Jamaica (pronounced ham-aye-ca) is actually made from dried hibiscus flowers, which also lend their ruby hue to Caribbean sorrel drinks and rosy Red Zinger tea. The dry flowers are steeped in water, which is strained and liberally sweetened. The result is a refreshing iced infusion touched with a pleasing whang of tartness.
• Maranon Refresco at La Pupusa Loco
You’re probably familiar with fatty, luxurious cashew nuts, but did you know that the cashew actually grows from a larger, equally delicious fruit? Called “cashew apple” or marañon, the bitter-skinned fruit is peeled and juiced. Its flavor is slightly pungent, giving this agua fresca a funky complexity.
• Muru (also known as chaas) at Masala Kraft Café
Unattractively listed as a “salted yogurt drink,” it’s essentially icy whizzed-up yogurt, salt, and cumin seeds garnished with fresh cilantro and a chili. This has been an absolute addiction of mine since my first sip of chaas in a London Indian restaurant. Muru has some of the thickness of a shake—it’s a little bit like an icy salad or a watery raita (without the cucumber). I find its liberal salt and chili make the perfect highlight for yogurt’s tang, and it’s far more interesting than the American habit of, essentially, dumping in a spoonful of jam.
Mediterranean Cooking Using Local Ingredients at Rainbeau Ridge
Cooking with the Author: Laura Pensiero, Hudson Valley Mediterranean: The Gigi Good Food Cookbook (Monday, July 12, 9:30-11:30 am, $75) In this class, celebrate the flavors of our region with delicious Mediterranean-inspired recipes from Laura Pensiero, author of Hudson Valley Mediterranean: The Gigi Good Food Cookbook (Harper Collins, 2009). Laura will share her interpretations of traditional Italian dishes using healthy ingredients that can be found right outside our doorsteps. You’ll learn how to make cost-effective and nourishing meals inspired by the foods of the season. Laura is a renowned chef, nutritionist, and the owner of Gigi Trattoria in Rhinebeck, New York, and Gigi Market & Catering in Red Hook, New York.
Green Wines at Wine Geeks of Armonk (Wednesday June 16 7pm, free) More and more artisanal winemakers are going green with amazing results. Learn all about the world of organic, sustainable, and biodynamic winemaking.
Backyard Composting (June 12, 19 and 26 9-11 am $75 for the three-part series) A three-part series on composting from the ground up for homeowners, this is a great way to bring your locavorian eating full circle. Learn to make and use nutrient-rich compost for your home gardens and landscape, with Gregg Twehues, Stone Barns Center’s director of nutrient management.
Killer Cemita at La Fonda Poblano
In one of the funnier soap operas to hit the food world, Westchester resident Alan Richman is getting a royal literary b-slap. (I only gave Richman bit of a damp web slap.) In his new book, Medium Raw, Anthony Bourdain waxes salty about the GQ critic, and folks, this is tastier than any Housewives of New Jersey.
Photo by Halina Sabath
Here’s a clip from Chef Kelly’s announcement:
“I am very pleased to announce our new chef at my flagship restaurant, Xaviars at Piermont. George DeMarsico joined our team in 2009 at my X2O Xaviars on the Hudson in Yonkers and now has crossed the bridge and returned to Rockland. George brings a passion for food and wine that I think you will find remarkable. His commitment to local sourcing will add a significant dimension to our menu presentations. Since April of this year, George and I have been working on tweaks to the menu that will showcase the Hudson Valley’s most prized produce, poultry, fruits, and artisan foods to create our signature menus. After scouring the Piermont and Nyack farmers’ markets, we will create a different menu every Sunday Evening utilizing the local farmers & food producers of the Hudson Valley.”