Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ode to Citrus

One of the luxuries of living in Florida is fresh citrus.  I remember one of my grandmother's cousins, Carol, a wonderful woman who passed away last year at the ripe old age of 89, told me once how she would get oranges in her stocking at Christmas.  Those were the days when fruit was not taken for granted.  Oranges were not at the local grocery unless they were in season, and therefore a real treat only available certain times of year.

About a month ago, my good friend Raegan invited Lil' Bit and I to go pick citrus at her parents' grove.  Her daughter Kate is Lil' Bit's first friend...the two were born just 5 days apart.  We set out the week before Christmas to Sandy Point Grove a little piece of paradise on the Amelia River.  There we rendezvoused with two other mamas and their little ones and set forth on foot and by golf cart into the mossy grove.

Raegan's dad, Mr. Alison grows over 21 different varieties of citrus on his 27 acres.  Clementines, navels, tangelos, tangerines, valencias, satsumas, parson browns, blood organges, red and white grapefruits, lemons, pumellos,  He has his special trees that nobody can touch the fruit on, as does his wife.  The two juice every day, and Mrs. Alison strolls out in her robe every morning to her favorite ruby grapefruit tree to pick a big juicy orb ripe for breakfast.  Needless to say, they live the good life.

Lil' Bit and I walked away with about 30 lbs of fruit that crisp sunny morning. They made wonderful additions to our little Christmas goodie baskets we made as gifts for family, and were the perfect addition to the bottles of wine we handed out to friends.  We even used some as a part of our Christmas table centerpiece. 

About two weeks ago, while we were braving the snow of Utah a terrible freeze hit North Florida, and unfortunately quite a bit of the citrus at Sandy Point took a hit.  Although, last week Raegan shared with us a bag of blood oranges and a basket of Valencias that survived.  We are so lucky, and grateful for friends like her.

In between our special local delivery, and our December harvest Chef indulged in purchasing one of his favorite fruits at the grocery store, where this time of year clementines start appearing on display in their retro wooden boxes.  These little fruits have sailed across the Atlantic from Spain to make it to our shores.  Chef loves clementines, as does our dog Clancy much to our surprise.  When he arrived home with a hip little box of citrus, while the slow foodie in me moaned...I was thrilled to have the wooden crate for storage.

As much as I hate to admit it, I am a Florida girl at heart.  I say this for the soul reason that I have yet to meet a piece of citrus I did not like.  My dad worked in a Tropicana plant before I was born, and I remember as a child smelling the acrid scent of burning orange peels when the wind blew a certain way.  I love the smooth round shape of citrus, and the vibrant colors.  The way that when you pierce its skin its scent immediately fills your nose.  I find that it is segmented wonderfully convienent.  It tastes good in water, and on fish.  OJ is the perfect beverage to accompany an omelette, and lemons make a wonderful addition to a roasted chicken.  Cures scurvy.  I could go on and on.   To sum it up...citrus is fabulous.


Anonymous said...

Hey Nan

I am amazed by Honeybell oranges try one if you haven't they are soo so delicious. Hope you are doing weel I snuck on the Erin's computer and saw your citrus blog. Vaughn

Nan said...

I haven't tried a Honeybell...but someone was just telling me the other day I really needed to...I will begin a search. I hope you two are doing great. It is looking like we will be moving closer to your neck of the woods in the next year or two. Chef will be up to DC to visit in April to check out some real estate options and I know he would love to see you!

Tara Meyer-Robson said...

As usual, another wonderful, interesting posting. And I am drooling over the retro clementine box...

drfugawe said...

I've always been amazed at how little citrus Floridians actually consume - kind of a takeoff on the "familiarity breeds contempt" bit.

As "old" past residents of Florida and Jax, we are spending sev months with our daughter here in Jax - probably could have picked a nicer time, but ... it's still better than our current home in SW Oregon!

Love your blog - I'm a blogger, of sorts, too - mine centers on bread, food, and gardening. We're having fun re-discovering the area after 15 years absence - all the new restaurants are a key part of that fun - and we are eager to soon check out 29 South. We are very interested in your garden layout - any chance we could do a walk-through for a few ideas we might use in our daughter's backyard?
john murren

Nan said...

Hi John,
Glad you like the blog! I would be happy to give you a walk through of the garden. Just let me know when you are planning to come visit. Thanks!