Charming Suitor and I are, as it should surprise no one, pretty romantic on a day to day basis. I think we both know that finding each other in, let us acknowledge, the second act of our lives, so to speak, we are aware of both the time behind us that we missed not knowing each other, and the need to not waste a moment of the gift we've been given in each other.
Romance means different things to different people, so I don't mean to imply that the way we do it is right or better, just that it works for us. There are the little things. Every night before bed we have small glasses of champagne, to toast the day, to toast our love, to send us to sleep with little tickly bubbles in our noses. It is the perfect nightcap, and a wonderful tradition.
Gifting can be complicated with couples, but luckily for us we are pretty much on the same page. We believe in happy presents, those little random gifts, small things you find along your path that make you think of the other person and know it would make them happy. We don't wait for holidays or special occasions for these, we just find, and give. Because sometimes an unexpected treat on a Tuesday is just the thing. For the holiday season, we don't give to each other, we make donations to causes that are near and dear to loved ones hearts, and give each other the gift of time. We both take off the week between Christmas and New Years and spend it lazily at home together, indulging in naps and afternoon movies and complicated meals that we can cook together. No work, no "have tos", no projects, just us together is all we need and the best gift we could either of us ask for.
While the Chateau is under construction, birthday and anniversary gifts tend to be of the practical household variety. Did you know that the Fourth year anniversary gift is appliances? Well, it was in this house!
For those of you who know us, you know that both Charming Suitor and I are Francophiles. We have both been fortunate to spend a lot of time in France, both separately and together, and went there for our honeymoon. So ever since we bought our house, since it looks like a little castle, we've been calling it The Chateau. More specifically, Chateau de Pamplmousse.
Pamplemousse is my favorite single word in French. It means grapefruit, which is one of my favorite flavors, but I think even if I didn’t like the flavor of grapefruit, I would still love the word. Just say it once, out loud. C’mon, no one is listening. Pamplemousse. Pronounced POM-PLA-MOOSE. Isn’t that fun? Don’t you want to say it again? I always thought if I ever had a restaurant I would name it Pamplemousse. Except your Polymath does not want to work that hard.
Pamplemousse is also Charming Suitor’s favorite word in French, something we discovered early on in our courtship. He has spent years trying to get his friends to name their pets, and alternately children, Pamplemousse. He will occasionally look me in the eye and say “You had me at Pamplemousse.” which I am sure is making you throw up a little in your mouth right now, but it literally makes my heart melt every time.
My license plate is PMPLMUS.
So, in celebration of Valentine's Day, and the progress on the house, I thought I would do a special pamplemousse themed big giveaway for all of you! And I've got some wonderful partners on this one.
First and foremost, as I have said before on this blog, It is important to know something about me. I think most sparkling flavored waters taste strongly of furniture polish. But I do like fizzy water, and have been avoiding pop for a while now, trying to stay away from artificial sweeteners as much as possible.
So when LaCroix came out with a grapefruit version of their flavored sparkling water a few years ago AND called it Pamplemousse, I had to try it. I don’t know if I love it as much as I do because I was psychologically pre-disposed to like it based on the name, but the fact is that we now drink about two to three cases of it a week since CS loves it too, as do some of my closest friends, so I believe it is really just tasty. Very lightly flavored, and oddly great with most food. No artificial colors or flavors or salt or sweetener, so it is good for my program.
And the lovely folks at LaCroix have sent me some vouchers for free cases of their products to pass along to the lucky winner! You don't HAVE to use it for Pamplemousse flavor, but I do strongly recommend it.
I also do eat quite a bit of grapefruit in season, but as you can imagine, once I needed to reduce my added sugar intake, I needed to do a bit of research to find the grapefruits that are sweet enough on their own so that I didn't miss that little sprinkle of sugar. Enter Wonderful Sweet Scarlett's, a new brand of Texas Red Grapefruit that I have become really fond of. I have to be honest, I never really looked for a specific brand of grapefruit before, and came across these because my local grocery store had them and they looked good. But when I tasted them, really sweet punchy grapefruit flavor with almost no acidity, I checked that little oval label and remembered it.
The folks at Wonderful Sweet Scarlett's have put together a terrific gift basket for you!
This basket has some delicious Wonderful Sweet Scarletts grapefruit, a circular bamboo cutting board, an apron, a grapefruit spoon and grapefruit bowl, as well as a Valentine's heart shaped cookie cutter. And I've got some fun recipes below to use those grapefruits to their fullest, sweetest potential.
Last but not least, we had some guest soaps custom made for the house in a delicate grapefruit scent, so I will be sending a personalized signed copy of Recipe for Disaster and a bar of the official Chateau de Pamplemousse soap to the winner as well.
To enter to win, leave a comment below on your favorite way to celebrate (or not)Valentines Day by 11:59pm on February 19, and I will announce the winner on the 20th!
Here are some of my favorite grapefruit treats:
Oleo Saccharum is a wonderful bittersweet grapefruit syrup that is classically used for cocktails, but once you have some on hand, you'll find all kinds of uses for it. I love it drizzled over vanilla Greek yogurt and sprinkled with toasted slivered almonds for a light dessert, splashed into chamomile tea for a sore throat, or as a fun substitute for maple syrup on french toast. But I've given you a recipe for a cocktail...
Peels of 8 grapefruits, removed with a peeler with minimum pith
1 c sugar
Place all of the peels in a Ziploc bag with the sugar and press out the air. Mush around to begin to release the oils. Let sit at room temp at least 6 hours to overnight dissolve the sugar, smushing it around occasionally, then strain into a bottle for use.
Makes about 1/3 c
The Chateau de Pamplemousse Fizz
1 1/2 oz gin
1 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Dolin white vermouth
1/2 oz oleo saccharum
1 oz LaCroix Pamplemousse
Mix the gin, aperol, white vermouth and oleo saccharum in a mixing glass over ice, and stir to combine. Strain into a rocks glass with ice cubes, and top with the LaCroix. Serve with a half-slice of grapefruit to garnish.
Grapefruit Cornmeal Cake
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 ½ c all purpose flour
½ c medium grind cornmeal
1 ½ c granulated sugar
2 t baking powder
½ t kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 T grapefruit zest
¼ c fresh grapefruit juice
2 c confectioners sugar
¼ c poppy seeds
1/3 c fresh grapefruit juice
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9 in cake pan, line bottom with parchment and butter parchment.
Whisk flour with cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk melted butter with eggs, zest and juice. Add butter to dry mixture in slow steady stream while whisking constantly. Scrape into pan and bake 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and invert on the rack, peel off parchment paper and carefully flip cake right side up. Let cool 30 minutes.
Mix glaze ingredients until smooth. Pour glaze all over still warm cake and spread over top and sides. Let stand until set, 30 minutes. Store in airtight container for up to three days.
Yours in Good Taste,