Agua Fresca

Agua Fresca

One good thing about working in kitchens is the amount of diversity you come across with your co-workers. It is typical that in most kitchens there is someone of mexican discent working. since working at the Greenbrier, I have worked with many passionate and food driven chefs and I have never worked anywhere else where I have seen so much creativity. One of the chefs in our kitchen is crazy about making this fruit drink just about every day for our family meal. I finally went up to Armando and asked him what the deal is with him making these delicious and refreshing drinks. He told me that this melon water or Agua Fresca is a very popular drink in Mexico. Traditionally when they drink water they add any fruit of choice preferably watermelon  for a delicious flavor. I did some research on this tradition and according to the Hawaiidiner.com, this beverage literally translated as “fresh water” is a drink made from what ever fruit is in season and usually has a sweetener such as sugar added to it. You will find these drinks all over Mexico on the street or in restaurants and the distinct fruitiness balances very well amongst Mexican cuisine. This beverage can also be see in the Philippines.
I watched Armando prepared this tasty beverage one day and asked if it was okay to copy the recipe and add it to my blog.  You can use any fruit you like, we prefer to use compressed melons such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew. We compressed them due to the fruit we received this year not being as sweet as it should be therefore compressing it in simple syrup added great sweetness to it.

To make you:
-Add into a blender or vita prep any kind of fruit cut into small chunks up to the top. For this recipe we used all three melons as mentioned above.
-Add in 1 cup lemon juice
-Add 4 oz simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, cooked down)
-Add in small handful mint leaves (optional)
-Blend together
-Strain though a fine mesh strainer or chinoise
-Serve over ice and enjoy.

You can also add in berries if preferred for additional flavors. This is a very delicious and light refreshing beverage. Goes wonderful with hot/spicy foods, and great to enjoy on a hot summer day.

Pictured above is an example of how to start the beverage with adding everything into the blender prior to blending.

Sweet Columbus

When my boyfriend and I were in Columbus, OH back in November a Chef we worked with at The Greenbrier had told us of a few good places to check out while we were there. After catching a live Bluejackets hockey game we had a few hours to spare before heading back to West Virginia. We decided to check out the food scene. There are a multitude of breweries (which I had no idea Columbus had), a quaint little German town, and a ton of other good restaurants and food locales. Brandon and I were told to check out Pistacia Vera, a dessert boutique in historic German Village for some really outstanding macaroons. I’ve never been much of a macaroon fan until I had the privilege of tasting theirs. Their signature item is Macaroon sandwich cookies with either butter cream or ganache filling. These were the freshest, softest, most flavorful cookies I have ever tasted. Flavors included: maple walnut, passion fruit, orange cranberry, pistachio, nutella, mocha, and vanilla bean. Depending on the season they do have other flavors. The flavors of each cookie just exploded in my mouth and blew my taste buds away. I think about these cookies everyday they are that good. Their menu also includes tortes, tarts, pastries, cookies, preserves, and pate de fruits having over 60 seasonal confections and pastries. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend you check it out. All desserts are made from scratch, fresh daily and they have many gluten free, dairy and vegan free products. For a Menu or more information on background of the cafe go www.pistaciavera.com

In the Picture to the left is fresh from scratch a pistachio orange fig dacquoise (Gluten free) and to the right is a Passion fruit Chambord flourless cake (Gluten free & nut free).

Most of everyone has heard of Jeni’s Ice cream and if you haven’t I suggest you do some research to locate the nearest one and go check it out. I’ve heard nothing but good things from everyone who has gone there. I decided its my turn to see what its all about. I am a home cook myself just as she was and making ice creams is one of my favorite things to do when I have the time and money. I bought her book with hopes that I would find good recipes and easy techniques on how to make ice cream better than the store . Upon reading her book and testing out a few recipes I’ve become very happy with each result. If your looking for good quality of texture and consistency I would stop by a jeni’s Ice cream nearest you. My favorite flavor of the batch would have to be the salty caramel. Perfect sweet to salty ratio. Her recipes are made specifically for at home making and are easy to follow. I bought the book and continue to use it every time I make ice cream. If you are unable get to a Jenis location, she does sell her products online for you to buy. Check out her website at http://jenisicecreams.com/ for product information and other goods.