Blood Orange Food and Drink -- Worth Every Drop

LAS VEGAS ( MainStreet) -- With blood orange season entering its final weeks, TravelsinTaste has rounded up some of the tastiest ways to enjoy this antioxidant-laden fruit.

In California the "Too Hot Tamales" of TV fame -- chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken -- have mastered the blood orange cocktail with multiple concoctions: The wildly popular Pisco Sour at Border Grill in Downtown L.A. is a combination of pisco, lime, egg white powder and blood orange bitters -- so popular and delicious it is staying on the menu indefinitely. Also being served is the Pisco Sangre, a seasonal specialty drink with pisco and blood orange, and the Blood Orange Jalapeno Margarita.

"At Border Grill, our favorite way to spice up the winter doldrums is with a ruby red, spicy, tart margarita made with the abundant blood oranges of the season and a little muddled jalapeno," says Milliken, co-chef and owner of Border Grill Restaurants and Truck, as well as a star of Bravo's Top Chef Masters.

Margaritas are also being poured at Samba inside the Mirage in Las Vegas. The Mirage Blood Orange Margarita combines El Jimador Silver Tequila, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, Agave Nectar, Monin blood orange syrup, with fresh lime juice and dressed with an orange raspberry fruit chip. For a different kind of kick with your OJ, try Bar Moderno's Stone Wall at Aria, a delightful combination of Maker's Mark 46 Bourbon, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, fig jam and fresh lemon juice served over ice. And for true refreshment, J.R. Starkus, rm seafood's lead bartender, has created the On the Fly with Haymans Old Tom Gin, fresh-pressed blood OJ, Swedish herb bitters, fresh lemon juice, Velvet Falernum and tamarind vinegar.
The Blood Orange Jalapeno Margarita is just one item at Los Angeles' Border Grill to take advantage of the too-brief blood orange season.

"I created On the Fly for my guests and their palate. The idea is for my guests to be introduced to an approachable cocktail that all guests will be eager to try," Starkus said. "I started out with ordinary ideas and tweaked the recipe with new ingredients, such as blood orange and vinegar, in hopes of creating a drink that the guest would not normally order."

In West Hollywood, Cecconi's fresh juice menu features Moro blood orange juice squeezed to order. Jeremy Back, bar manager of City Tavern in Culver City, features the Left at the Altar, an expert mixture of Nolet's gin, Cointreau, blood orange gastrique and forbidden bitters. For a classic cocktail, Andaz West Hollywood is serving a blood orange "Old Fashion," a concoction of red blossom farm blood orange, raspberries, agave syrup and bitters.

New York showcases some fascinating creations. Jean Georges Vongerichten's wildly popular ABC Kitchen is serving a Blood Orange Bellini with blood orange juice and cremant d'alsace. Pera Mediterranean Brasserie's Blood Orange Gimlet combines Tanqueray Rangpur Gin, fresh blood orange puree (a popular Mediterranean cuisine ingredient) and lime. At Yerba Buena Perry, chef and owner Julian Medina and bartender Alex Valencia's Sangrita is packing heat with a decadent mix of blood oranges, hot sauce, a little black pepper, salt, lime, lemon juice and tomato water.

Hungry? Try an amuse bouche of L'Orange Sanguine, a delightful emulsion of blood orange on a wild berry gelee, at Joel Robuchon in the MGM Grand in Vegas or an appetizer of foie gras custard brulee at Shawn McClain's Sage in Vegas' Aria Resort. Made up of blood orange, toasted cocoa nibs and salted brioche, it melts in your mouth. In New York at Perilla, chef Harold Dieterle prepares a grilled swordfish entree with chickpea-blood orange ragu and almond-cocoa soil. He likes to use blood oranges for the brightness they add to a dish and the vibrant color of the juice and flesh. At Recette, chef Jesse Schenker pairs hamachi with fresh uni, mache, blood orange gelee, jalapeno and harissa foam.

In Los Angeles, at Farmshop, chef Jeff Cerciello is offering a red rice salad with avocado, toasted pecans, Maggie's Mint, blood orange and Bellwether Farm's pepato cheese. At Culina, chef Victor Casanova serves a salmon with blood orange, caviar, chives and extra virgin olive oil. In Miami, meanwhile, executive chef and co-owner Sean Brasel's ceviche at the Lincoln Road hot spot Meat Market is made up of mahi mahi with miso paste, aji amarillo, agave nector, lime juice, pineapple scraps, miran wine, yuzu and blood orange puree.

On the sweet side, executive chef Andrew Brochu at the restaurant graham elliot dishes up his Mallorca, a blood orange popsicle served with a fruit salad of blood orange, banana, ginger, lemon-lime consomme and a "Gatorade" foam. The lebne cheesecake from pastry chef Morgan Bordenave at Mezze in Los Angeles is garnished with blood oranges. The chef also creates a pink cheesecake infused with blood oranges for special occasions.

Shaun Hergatt, executive chef and owner of SHO Shaun Hergatt has served blood oranges in past desserts such as the popular boule de fromage, made up of fromage blanc white chocolate and blood orange and garnished with a tuile of nicoise nougatine.

"Blood oranges are one of the kings of citrus. Not only beautiful to look at, but with a complexity, acidity and depth of flavor profile superior to other varietals of oranges," Hergatt says. Our sentiments exactly.

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