Alcohol in a melon. No, this isn't about anything as pedestrian as Watermelon with Vodka. The Charentais melon deserves something more refined.
Ever since Annie read "Melons for the Passionate Grower" by Amy Goldman, she was enthralled by the beauty of the Charentais. She even tried to grow it in our yard last year. We got one disappointing, measly fruit. It was so sad looking, we didn't even eat it.
Charentais are true canteloupes from France, with smooth, pale green skin and darker green ribs. They're not very big, as melons go. You can palm a nice-sized one easily - just right for two people to share. Charentais have a deep orange flesh and complex flavor. They have a reputation as the best tasting melon around.
We were at Whole Foods in Cupertino, looking for steel cut oats (that's another post...) and finding Bubbies Mochi Ice Cream (thanks for the tip, Allen!). In the produce section, Annie found organic Charentais on sale and bought one home.
Top Cut Off a Charentais Melon
The inside of the melon is pretty much solid flesh, with only a small center section where the seeds reside.
Halved Charentais Melon
Annie scooped out the seeds and sectioned one of the halves. We each took a piece, bit into it, and looked at each other.
The melon didn't have us raving. It was kinda blah, really. In fact, I would have preferred a canteloupe to this (and I don't like canteloupe very much). The flavor was subtly sweet, with almost a bitter note at the end. We were puzzled and more than slightly disappointed.
Then Annie remembered a picture in the Amy Goldman "Melons" book of a Charentais melon with port wine inside the hollowed-out seed section. Amy writes:
"Charentais and Porto were meant for each other. Because port is sweeter and more viscous than Charentais, it accentuates the melon's fruit acid and delicacy."
So we decided to give it a try. We happened to have a bottle of Tawny Port from Messina Hof Winery in Texas. I poured about an ounce of port into the melon.
Charentais au Porto - Charentais Melon with Port
Ah, now that is better! Amazingly, the port did make the fruit taste sweeter and more like a melon. Annie cut the rest of her half of the Charentais into chunks and dropped them in the pool of port. We eagerly devoured them up, then scooped the remaining flesh from the sides of the melon bowl until there was nothing left except an empty rind.
What's your favorite melon? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!