Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mangosteens and Mangosteen Martinis

Unaware of ancient news that mangosteen martinis were "taking the New York club and restaurant scene by storm," I deluded they were my invention. Then I searched the web with "mangosteen martini" only to be dazzled by dozens of sophisticated and elaborate ways to fix them. Mangosteens were mentioned in the Unique Culinary Adventures podcast of November 12. We later shared our recipe for mangosteen martinis in a November 25 podcast. By reading on, you'll find it once again here.

First a quick primer: Fresh mangosteens were illegal in the United States until the second half of this year over concerns regarding the Asian fruit fly. By early September, a few fresh mangosteens were showing up at expensive greengrocers in Manhattan. Prices were said to be astronomical, according to an NPR Podcast. A web search reveals sites where mangosteens are frequently described as "the most delicious of all tropical fruits," and "queen of fruits." I agree.

In early September at Whole Foods Market in Mount Washington,
amazement over the price factor prompted me to whip out a less than trusty 3.2 megapixel cell phone and shoot the picture at right. Something seemed wrong. Going back quite a numer of years, even around Baltimore, and specifically at Big Boy across from the Lexington Market on Paca Street, I'd observed canned mangosteens. I recalled they were inexpensive and was right.

That became evident at Han Au Reun as noted in our Nov. 12 podcast. The two cans pictured below cost me $1.99 and $2.99 respectively. More good news is that poured through a strainer, each can yields more than a cup of mangosteen syrup, enough for quite a few martinis. So I simply strained, and funneled the syrup from one can into a tall and thin bottle to wait in the refrigerator for whenever mangosteen martinis are called for. I then consumed on the spot the canned mangosteens with my fingers in a state of umami rapture. Mangosteens have anti-oxident properties and other health benefits that are considered beneficial to the point that their extract is available in capsules on the Internet and in some health food stores.

Now it's time to keep that promise regarding our simple way to make great mangosteen martinis: The recipes everywhere on the web call for expensive and hard to find mangosteen juice products, never that wonderful syrup that's in every can. Shake up up two ounces of that syrup and three ounces of vodka in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice and strain into a martini glass. The result was such that I felt no need to splurge on one of those overpriced juices. Nor would I seek to thwart this straight-forward formula with extraneous ingredients. A little "clove" of canned mangosteen dropped into the glass was it.