Can I just say that I've been mesmerized by the precision and the performance of the Olympic divers and gymnasts on television this past weekend? I even did a cartwheel in my living room. (Call it wishful tumbling.)
Perhaps inspired by the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Scuba and I went to Chinatown in Lower Manhattan on Sunday morning to grab some dimsum (literally translated: "a touch of the heart") at Dim Sum Go Go (5 E. Broadway at Chatham Square). The French-American food writer Collette Rossant discovered the chef, Guy Lieu, in Hong Kong and their collaboration in the restaurant Dim Sum Go Go is what the New York Times personified in a review as "somewhat renegade, the good kid who likes hip-hop and is thinking seriously about an eyebrow ring... Chinese, but a little bored with the old ways." Indeed, Dim Sum Go Go serves up a punked-out version of a thousand year old tradition. Not only punkier, but healthier, too, with its delicious variety of steamed and/or vegetarian dishes.
After filling up on shumai and turnip cake, Scuba and I picked up a couple glasses of black tea with tapioca pearls ("bubble tea") to go and went exploring in the neighborhood. The streets were filled with the cries of hawkers selling faux Chanel wallets and pirated DVDs and the dissonant aromas of newly caught fish and sweet baked goods. I was admiring the shine and color on a bin of cherries when a strange fruit caught my eye:
Of course, having no clue as to what this strange fruit was, I promptly marched straight to the counter and bought two of them. In the meantime, Scuba, with his lightning thumbs, did brisk research on his BlackBerry. We found a matching picture on Wikipedia and discovered that this prickly pink-and-green grenade was called "Dragon Fruit" (Red Pitaya), a cactus grown in Central and South America and South East Asia. Tucked inside its forbidding exterior is soft flesh - either red or white and sprinkled with black seeds - with a taste like that of a ripe kiwi, only less tart. The flower of the dragonfruit is the legendary night-blooming cereus: it blooms in the desert, just once a year, at midnight - its petals unfolding like the tentacles of a giant white sea anenome.
It rained later on Sunday afternoon. The hot and humid weather made me hanker for a bowl of ice-cold granita. Native to Sicily, granita is a "sorbet-in-the-rough." It's coarser, more crystalline, and less high maintenance. Luckily, the dragonfruit made perfect granita fodder. And it's so easy to make, it doesn't even require an ice cream maker, just a freezer and a fork. Just use:
- 2 large dragonfruit
- 1/6 cup light agave nectar
- 1 oz. of vodka
- juice of 1 lemon
- Slice dragon fruit in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon without damaging the skin and chop into cubes. Save the skins in the fridge.
- Combine light agave nectar, vodka, and lemon juice in bowl.
- Puree the dragon fruit in a blender, mixing in the other combined ingredients.
- Freeze all in a flat container.
- As the mixture freezes, stir occasionally with a fork.
- Plate inside the empty skins as shown.
(As you might be able to tell from the previous posts, I have a "thing" for plating dishes inside the rinds of fruits and vegetables. The dragonfruit, with its fierce and exotic coloration and texture, makes a particularly ideal display bowl).
Servings: 2, Prep Time: 8 minutes (+1.5 hours freeze time), Calories per Serving: 193, Pair with: Eau de vie
Copyright Sweet & Victuals 2008. This article and photograph is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.