Like many of my seasonal affectations, I’m always delighted when citrus season rolls around for three main reasons: One: because it means the plump, juicy oranges from my tree will soon be ready and two: meyer meyer meyer meyer meyer meyer lemons, and three: blood oranges. And now that all are here I really don’t know what to do with myself. I’m pretty sure the guys at my farmers’ market are glad I’ve stopped running up to them each week asking the same question over and over again.
Unlike autumnal produce (which always seems so exciting but after about 2 weeks I am ready to move on), I could never ever tire of blood oranges. I wish I had them year round. And here’s where my craziness really kicks in: I enjoy them just as much for their color as their flavor. Correction: even more so, I think. There’s really nothing else like that color. Crimson with hints of sunshine, pink with a touch of vermillion. And the juice? Such an amazing coral and ruby hue, depending on how the light hits it. I’ve been known to juice several oranges and stare at the pitcher for hours in appreciation of that color I hardly see throughout the year. And trust me, I know my colors.
That reminds me about the last time I went to have my eyes checked and the doctor made me identify those strange numbers on a swirly dotted chart. She kept asking me to find the purple number and I couldn’t. We went back and forth with different charts until she finally asked me how long I have been color blind. What the hell did that mean, color blind? She then said if I wasn’t able to find the subtle differences between colors I must be color blind and I didn’t know whether to laugh or pinch her right there on the spot. She swore I had a problems with identifying colors based on a 3 minute exam. Excuse me sister, have you any idea what I do for a living? Trust me, if I had trouble identifying color I’d know about it. The reason I don’t see a purple "twenty-six" is because that’s not purple, it’s pink and it’s 1765 or so and not a 255 or 520 on the official Pantone chart thankyouverymuch, and I think YOU need to learn colors before you tell someone who’s very existence depends on color theory and harmony that they’re color blind while giving them the tiniest little freak-out of a panic attack.
I feel much better now. Oh yes, juice.
So while I’m busy experimenting a variety of blood orange recipes over the next week I thought I’d write about the drink that always welcomes their arrival in our house. I actually keep a bottle of Campari on hand for this very moment and relish the ritual of those first-season oranges. And that’s because not only do they taste heavenly but because I like the color: a blend of Pantone 187 with touches of 1797 and 703. And not Pantone 520.
Even if you are a doctor.
Blood Orange & Campari Cocktail
I like simple drinks that bring out the best of each ingredient; this one does it perfectly. You can sweeten the drink with a touch of superfine sugar if the bitterness of Campari bothers you, but I happen to love love love it. It’s also a great base for granita. And you could even add a splash of soda to this drink but I like the point when the ice melts just a bit and melds everything together.
3 ounces freshly-squeezed blood orange juice
1.5 ounces Campari
super fine sugar, to taste
Mix orange juice and Campari in shaker and mix well; add sugar for sweeter drink. Pour over cocktail ice and garnish with orange slice. Makes one cocktail but you might as well make a batch because it’s really really tasty.