It’s no secret that citrus is one of the reasons I could never live on a 100% local diet — at least not without moving back to California first. As soon as the weather dips near freezing, I start stocking up on grapefruit, oranges, Meyer lemons or, my favorite, clementines. As much as possible I buy organic citrus from Florida, but for clementines it’s the real thing, all the way from Spain. (I actually spotted those newfangled California “Cuties” at Whole Foods the other day, but stuck with the Old World variety.) When I was a kid, we always got a clementine in our stocking, and devoured it while waiting for Christmas breakfast to be ready. I’ve planned to do the same for the boy, but considering how many clementines we eat in the weeks leading up to Christmas, I’m not sure it’s quite as special a treat.
Today I had a meeting near one of my favorite restaurants in the city, Jaleo, so I stopped in for lunch. Imagine my delight to see the “Clementina Festival!” sign in the window. I couldn’t resist and enjoyed a three-course clementine lunch. First up, seared clementines with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and microgreens. Simple yet bursting with flavor. For the main course, seared squid with artichokes and clementines, the citrus contrasting perfectly with the silky squid. And then dessert. Clementine ice cream atop clementine curd, with some almond/graham cracker crumbs and fresh clementine slices — drizzled with olive oil. Perfection. It was like being transported to sunny Spain for an hour, and left me inspired to do more than just eat our way through the box of clementines straight up. The clementine curd in particular has me pondering a clementine tart … stay tuned.
Do you cook with clementines? What’s your favorite way to use them?
If you’re in DC, the Clementina Festival continues at Jaleo through December 20.