On a warm, balmy Parisian night earlier this week, my husband and I decided to eat al fresco, so we set a small table on the apartment’s narrow balcony. Since we had enjoyed a robust lunch earlier, we wanted a light supper and found inspiration from the vegetables and fruits displayed in the local markets of our neighborhood.
I bought large Brittany artichokes (they measure close to 5 inches across!), bunches of fresh mint and chives, plus a couple of Cavaillon melons (those extra sweet little cantaloupes from Provence). I also picked up juicy apricots and cherries as well as figs.
At home I turned to some favorite recipes to prepare my cache. The artichokes were cooked in a big pot of boiling water and served with melted butter scented with lemon, mint, and chives. Some readers might remember this dish from one of my blogs of several years ago when I used the artichokes as a first course. This time they became the main course. You’ll find the recipe here. As a side, I made Melon with Pernod and Mint, a starter that has been in my repertoire more than 20 years. I tweaked the directions slightly and offered the chilled cantaloupe slices as a fruit salad rather than an appetizer. You’ll find that recipe below.
Glasses of rosé, a crusty baguette, some sliced saucissons (sausages), plus Roquefort and an aged chèvre paired with apricots, cherries, and figs completed our “dîner au balcon!”
Print This Recipe
Melon with Pernod and Mint
3/4 cup sugar
34 cup fresh mint leaves, torn in half
1/4 cup Pernod (See note.)
2 small to medium ripe cantaloupes
Fresh mint sprigs for the garnish optional
1. Combine 2 cups water and the sugar in a heavy, medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Then bring to a boil and boil 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from the heat.
2. Place the torn mint leaves in a medium mixing bowl and pour the warm sugar mixture over them. Let steep for 45 minutes. Then strain into a bowl, and discard the mint. Stir in the Pernod.
3. Halve (cutting though the stem ends) the melons and scrape out the seeds. Cut each half lengthwise into 8 wedges, and then peel and discard the rinds. Place the peeled melon slices in a shallow, nonreactive serving dish and pour the strained mint mixture over them. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight, stirring several times.
4. Serve the melon wedges in the dish and garnish with a mint sprig or two if you like. Serves 6.
Note: Pernod is a French licorice-flavored liqueur that is available where wine and spirits are sold.
Adapted from First Impressions (1992 Morrow) by Betty Rosbottom