Sunday, December 30, 2012

RECIPE - Watermelon Caipirinha (Caipifruta de Melancia)

It's been a rough start to winter in Europe and North America recently, but Brazil is currently suffering one of its hottest and driest summers on record. This past Wednesday (26 December), Rio de Janeiro experienced its hottest day in almost a hundred years - since 1915 to be precise. The official temperature, as measured by the municipal weather department was 43.2 degrees celsius, which translates to 110 degrees fahrenheit. A friend of ours who lives in Rio reported that one of the large time-temperature signs on Rio's beachfront was reading 51F (or 124F) though he did say that the sign was in the sun. Whatever the official numbers were, it was a scorcher, and though the temperatures have moderated slightly in the past few days, these are Brazil's dog days.

At such extreme temperatures, nothing really relieves the heat, though air conditioning, fans, a dip in the sea and a cold drink all help. Brazilians love icy cold fruit drinks in the summer, and although alcohol doesn't really aid in heat relief, a splash of cachaça, Brazil's national spirit, is a traditional addition to fruit drinks.

The most traditional fruit employed is lime, and the most traditional cocktail is the caipirinha, which Flavors of Brazil has covered extensively in the past. But, increasingly, Brazilians are mixing up their fruits and creating new variations on the caipirinha theme. This one, from one of Brazil's best-selling food and wine magazines, swaps cubes of chilled watermelon (melancia in Portuguese) for the traditional lime.

One of the unique things about the caipirinha is that the whole fruit is used in the drink, not just juice. In this case, though the watermelon rind, thankfully, is not included, the cubes of watermelon are crushed in the glass and are not strained. The seeds make for a beautiful drink, and the pulp of the watermelon makes this a cooler that you can chew.

The drink requires a very ripe watermelon, so those readers of the blog who live in the Northern Hemisphere should probably wait until their summer arrives. Brazilians, Australians and other Southern Hemisphere residents can try one now, when the days are hottest and watermelons are ripest.
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RECIPE - Watermelon Caipirinha (Caipifruta de Melancia)
Makes one drink

1/2 cup cubed ripe watermelon, chilled
2 oz. cachaça (can substitute vodka or white rum)
1 Tbsp granulated white sugar
1 tsp fresh-squeezed lime juice
cubed ice
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In a cocktail shaker or large tumbler, combined the watermelon, cachaça, sugar and lime juice. Using a mortar or the handle of a large wooden spoon, cruch the watermelon cubes to release their juice, but don't completely liquify them - leave some small chunks of pulp.

Fill a large old-fashioned glass with ice, then pour the drink over. Do not strain the drink, leave the seeds and chunks of pulp in the drink.

Serve immediately.

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