[POM] Move Over, Tap Water…

 

Look.  I am not denying that New York has high-quality tap water.  The water’s source runs by gravity, is a largely environmentally-sound operation and is cheap.   It is filtered naturally during its upstate-to-downstate travels and picks-up some tasty natural mineral hitchhikers along the way.  From Telepan to Ninth Street Espresso to Del Posto to Applewood to Marlow and Sons, tap water is as highly-regarded as “still” water as imported, bottled spring water.  And, speaking of bottled, this genius sells NYC tap water.  Bottled.  The difference that NYC tap water makes to New York-style pizza and pasta dough , though, is indisputable to the point that out-of-state pizzerias have been known to import New York tap water, so why not sell some for people to experiment with and make their own at-home conclusions? 

 

 

So, what’s my point?  

Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  My Brooklyn apartment water sucks.  It is not so tasty.  I have more analogies as to its unfiltered flavor, but, since this is a family story, I will leave it at that.  But, when my tap filter starts to give its death rattle, until I can replace it, I am assured that I can look forward to a rather interesting flavor profile of wet late-November leaves, chalk, singed hair, Gowanus Canal and the mysterious creature that hums off the 69th Street Pier.  When filtered?  Well, we need water to live, so it is passable enough.  Now, I have had delicious water in Brooklyn and the other four boroughs, but whoever installed the water pipes in our building must have gone on to forge a successful lobbying career for the bottled beverage industry.  Sometimes, I hear the pipes rattling in the middle of the night and actually wonder if our water pipes are inhabited by a black market operation of squeezle

With a little help, less-than-savory water can be turned into a refreshing treat — agua fresca.  For the uninitiated, agua fresca is a delicious combination of any seasonal fruit or flower pulp, juice (or grains in the case of horchata) and water.  It is a light, refreshing and life-restoring beverage that is unbeatable during hot seasons and a delicious, hydrating  change of pace at any time.  My favorite agua fresca ever was sold outside a church near the Maxwell Street Market in Chicago, my hometown. 

 

I would religiously buy a cup and enter the Maxwell Street madness in search of whatever I was in the market for that day, be it: 

Dolls and rusted hardware… 

 

sacred art… 

 

fishing poles… 

 

“Grown Folks Music”… 

 

amazing street food… 

…or tires…. 

 

…or anything and everything inbetween that your heart might desire. 

My favorite Maxwell Street story (and, oh, are there stories) came from my dad, who was dragged down to Chicago from Milwaukee once a month in the 1930’s so that his family could buy cheap black market goods.  Mostly, they would split-up, with his mom off to buy underwear and socks and he and his off to buy rubber tires.  The underwear would often only have one leg hole and the socks would generally not be sewn at the toe (but, boy, what a bargain!), but, sure as the sun will rise, my dad and his siblings were going to wear those newly-purchased threads to school the next day.  During one visit, my grandpa went on a serious tire-shopping binge, determining how many tires each occupant in the car could sit upon for the trip back north to Wisconsin without drawing the attention of the authorities.  It was a good thing that he bought that surplus because, when they returned to their car, the vehicle was resting on blocks without tires.  Chances were, my grandpa had just bought his own tires.  Which very well may have been what recently happened to this man: 

 

But, back to that strawberry agua fresca.  After a Sunday morning of marketing, I would wander by the church again and pick-up a second glass of that strawberry agua fresca for the road and to try to figure out exactly what that second flavor was.  For the longest time, I thought that it was finished with just a squeeze of lime and maybe some orange.  Yet, it still had a tang that didn’t taste exactly like citrus alone.  Then, finally, it hit me:  pomegranate.  It should have been so simple, as I down a fair amount of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice every day.  All that time, the missing element in my homemade attempts to recreate that strawberry agua fresca was POMEGRANATE. 

Since we have been having a beautiful, sunny April in Brooklyn this year, I decided to make a batch on our crumbling back porch.  The first test batch I made turned out great, was reminiscent of that delicious, Chicago church agua fresca, and I haven’t changed the recipe since.  Of course, you can do whatever suits your taste, as it is impossible to mess-up agua fresca.  If it is too strong for your taste, just add some water.  A little too sour?  Add a little honey or sugar.  Need a little citrus?  Squeeze in some more lime, grapefruit, lemon or orange.  Not in a strawberry mood?  Add some watermelon instead or whatever suits your mood.  In the case of this recipe, I love mint with both pomegranate and strawberries, so I muddled some in.  So, with no further ado, here’s my recipe for Minted Pomegranate-Strawberry Agua Fresca: 

 

Minted Pomegranate-Strawberry Agua Fresca 

Serves 6 thirsty people 

Recipe

1 pound strawberries (16 ounces), washed, hulled and coarsely chopped 

12 leaves stemmed fresh mint 

2 cups POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice 

4 limes 

3 cups water (or more, to taste) 

3 cups ice 

Technique

In a large, sturdy pitcher, combine the chopped strawberries, fresh mint and POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice.  Using a muddler or a long-handled wooden spoon, crush the combination until you have a coarse pulp. 

 

Just kidding.  But I couldn’t help put that beautiful strawberry in the middle of my just awaking strawberry plants. 

 

 

 

Alternatively, if someone has borrowed your muddler or long-handled wooden spoon and not returned it (as frequently happens with me), you can place the strawberries, mint and pomegranate juice into a blender and blend until you have a coarse pulp or use an immersion blender directly in your pitcher.  Split and juice 3 limes and add the juice to the fruit pulp. 

Thinly slice the remaining lime for garnish. 

Add the water to the pitcher and stir, folding from the bottom so that the mixture is well combined.  Taste and add water to taste.  When happy with the flavor and texture, add the ice and stir until mixed. 

Divide the agua fresca evenly amongst 6 tall glasses, garnish with the reserved lime slices, serve and enjoy! 

 

See you next month!  For other great POM Wonderful ideas, visit http://www.pomwonderful.com.  Thanks!
 

 

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