Thursday, October 14, 2010

Salty Sweet Peach Limeade

development process
This recipe came as an inspiration after watching one of my favorite shows, The Next Food Network Star, and the latest winner, Aarti Sequeira. Aarti has become one of my favorite cooking gurus. She's so much fun to watch! Her bubbly personality, quirky little jokes, and awesome skill in the kitchen (not to mention the Food Network kitchen they hooked her up with!) has really inspired me in so many ways. Thanks, Aarti!

The first time I ventured forth and ordered a salted drink was at a Pho restaurant. I was eating with a friend, who happens to be from Indonesia, and I wanted to try something different. I love to try new and different things and experience the world in some new fashion. So, I ordered a Salted Plum Soda. Let's just say I was completely unprepared for the level of saltiness. In other parts of the world, salted drinks are a common menu item, but not where I'm from. We, Americans, tend to like our food sweet. That goes without saying. However, I was intrigued. I took a few sips of the salted beverage and had to stop. It was too much for me. Even my Indonesian friend thought it was a bit much. But, taste is obviously a very personal thing. That goes without saying too.

The second time I (almost) ordered a salted drink was at a fabulous afghani restaurant in Seattle. The food is outstanding and I thought, what the heck. It was a salted yogurt drink, apparently a favorite in Afghanistan. I apologize, but I cannot remember the name and it's not on their menu online... Anyway, I like yogurt. I do like salt. And I am adventurous. Most of the time.

The kind waiter took my order, eyed me up and down for a moment, then kindly asked, "Have you ever had [fill in the blank with the name of this salted, yogurt drink] before?" I shook my head. He smiled. "Well, then let me bring you a sample first."

That should have been my first clue.

The very sweet man brings me a small glass with a thick, white liquid inside and sets it down in front of me. "It's an acquired taste," he says surreptitiously.

Another clue.

But it was sitting right there and I had to know. So, I took a sip. And another. It tasted like very, very salty yogurt without even the slightest hint of sweetness. Not exactly my drink of choice.

My friends all gave it a try, quickly setting down the glass, leaving it more than half-full. I'm sure the waiter was more than mildly amused. He took our order for mango lassis (more my speed, apparently) and we continued to have a very pleasant evening. Later, he told us that salted drinks are common in his homeland and that region of the world because the salt content and the yogurt keep them hydrated in the extreme summer temperatures. Absolutely makes sense. However, I do live in Seattle. Not exactly extreme heat here ever. Except once. And it only lasted a day.

But, I was still intrigued with my newest favorite Food Network star creating a delicious-looking salty-sweet limeade and the interesting experiences with imported recipes at some local restaurants. I still wanted to give it a try - even if it would become a sweeter American try.

And this is what I came up with. And it really is delicious. A HINT of salt (nothing too overpowering) that really brings out the flavors of the peaches and limes and complements the sweetness in just the right way. Try it. You might just love it.

Happy drinking!
Refreshing Tea Limeade

Salty Sweet Peach Limeade

Makes ½ gallon

6 small peaches or nectarines, pitted and chopped (I leave the skin on)

4 limes, juiced

½ cup sugar, or to taste

2 large pinches of sea salt

Spritzer, optional

Place cut peaches or nectarines, juice of all four limes, sugar and salt into a blender or VitaMix. Add 2-3 cups of water and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour liquid into a half-gallon pitcher and fill rest of the way with water. Mix to combine, add spritzer, if using, and serve.