Ambrosia, nectar of the gods, made a misstep some time in the mid-twentieth century when it took miniature marshmallows and canned fruit sections into its company. Thereafter, one might find it in malformed snowball mounds on the dessert table at a church supper or in a watery bowl, floating limp and pallid, on a cafeteria line.
For a dish that conferred immortality, it seemed, well, tragic. Olympian ambrosia of yore had been forgotten.
But one New Year’s morning a few years ago, when my friend Lou was also my next-door neighbor, I awoke to find her rapping at my front door, she and her partner, double-fisted, brandishing gifts: antique champagne glasses brimming with what appeared to be authentic ambrosia.
Luscious and heady: she had macerated the fruit in brandied orange liqueur. Happy New Year!
We gleefully ate— imbibed, really—and woozy, conked out.
I wanted to greet this New Year morning in a similar way, but I didn’t want to send my houseguests reeling back to bed. I had pineapple and a variety of citrus in the fridge, some shredded unsweetened coconut in the pantry—and a couple of other items that could make ambrosia anew.
Ginger chips—intense air-dried bits of sweet-pungent heat—are delicious layered in with the coconut and fruit. Silky walnut oil whisked in with the juices and zest, a little cracked black pepper elevate this to the celestial.
Of course, add a splash of Grand Marnier, if you don’t mind a little extra spirit.
A New Year Ambrosia
1 Ruby Grapefruit
1 Navel Orange
½ Lime (for both juice and zest)
½ cup Toasted Coconut
¼ cup Ginger Chips (found at Trader Joe’s)
4 Tablespoons Walnut Oil
pinch sea salt
a few grindings of cracked black pepper
1. Using a microplane, get ½ teaspoon of zest from each of the citrus fruits.
2. Cut citrus fruits into thin sections. Peel, core, and slice pineapple into thin slices.
3. Squeeze juice from rinds into mixing bowl. Squeeze lime into same bowl. Add orange and grapefruit zest. (reserve lime zest for garnish.) Add a pinch of sea salt and a few grindings of black pepper. Whisk in 4 Tablespoons Walnut oil.
4. Layer slices into saucer style champagne glasses (or martini glasses or glass bowls). Sprinkle with toasted coconut and a few broken ginger chips. Repeat layering, topping with coconut and ginger chips. Drizzle citrus-walnut oil mixture over each. Garnish with lime zest and serve.