It's another gray morning here in Southern California. And even though the sun was out part of this week, the frequent showers, and the sky's steely shroud are beginning to wear a bit on me. I'm sure my friends in Oregon and all the East Coasters getting pummeled yet again by snow have very little sympathy for my Vitamin D-deprived whine, so I'll keep it brief and get straight to the remedy: winter citrus.
The extra rain here in L.A. has been good for a few things. It's helped pull us out of years of drought, and it's been great for the citrus trees that grow up and down the coast. My favorites are the tangerines. About the size of a Hacky Sack, these easy-to-peel fruits have skins the color of a crossing guard's jacket and juice that appears to be lit from within, tangerines have the power to turn they grayest of days into orange-colored bliss. Tangerines are sweet, with a tang that can be a subtle whisper or like little pin-pricks on your tongue, depending on the variety. To find the best ones, if you don't have a tree in your yard, go to the nearest farmers' market to taste the many options. The fruits make a fantastic energy-filled afternoon snack, complement the anise flavor of fennel perfectly in a crunchy salad, and they play nicely with spice, too.
But I think our friends Todd and Diane over at White on Rice Couple put their homegrown tangerines to the best weekend welcoming use in their Double Tangerine Cocktail, which uses fresh tangerine juice, fresh lemon juice, ginger simple syrup and Cognac. I would tweak the recipe a bit and sub the ginger simple syrup with regular simple syrup so that I could use the Domaine de Canton Ginger & Cognac Liqueur (750ml $31.99), which has plenty of ginger heat along with the subtle nuances of a top-notch Cognac. If you'd rather invest in an unflavored Cognac, I recommend the Ferrand Reserve Grande Champage 1er Cru du Cognac (375ml $28.99), with its notes of apricot, dried flowers and licorice.
Have a great weekend.