Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Ginger-Lime Syrup: Tangy and sweet

Okay, I have officially lost my mind. I am now a resident of Shondaland.

Shonda Rhimes is the ever-so-talented creator and head writer of “Grey’s Anatomy,” the third season of which starts on September 21st. Tuesday the second season came out on DVD and I have been spending the past few days immersed in Ms. Rhimes’ world of lovesick interns and crazy patients because the evil overlords at Best Buy knock the price of new releases down by 10-15% and I had a giftcard.

I used to be a fan of “Lost,” but there were too many repeats last season. “My Name Is Earl” is a great show, but it’s getting a little by-the-numbers… so to speak. My two favorite shows are “Scrubs” and “Grey’s.” I watch “Scrubs” when I have the evening free, but “Grey’s” gets videotaped (yes, I’m a freak without a DVR or TiVO) and I used to call a friend of mine after each show and talk about it. I’ve seen every episode already, which begs the question of why I bought the DVD. The reason is, season two was abso-effin’-lutely brilliant and I have a bad feeling that it’s all downhill from here. Part of me is even tempted to skip season three so that I don’t have to witness the decline.

The show is sweet, sweet, sweet. It’s about love that has to be denied because life isn’t sweet. It’s bitter and bite-y. And spicey.

Tuesday was also the night I decided to launch a full-on assault on the kitchen. Armed with 2 issues of Food&Wine and a notebook I found 2 recipes that I could make without breaking the bank or blowing my own tiny mind.

The first was Sesame Chicken Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing. Since the syrup required 1 cup of fresh lime juice and ginger root, I headed to the grocery store, where I grabbed four good-sized chunks of ginger and the last 9 limes in the store. Then I headed to Best Buy for a one-way ticket to Shondaland (also the name of Rhimes’ production company) before scampering home to start juicing.

Unfortunately, 9 limes does not a cup of lime juice make, so I scampered out at again. To two more stores. More limes, more juicing. Did you know that those honey stick things are good for muddling limes? And that too many lime rinds can break a garbage disposal- or at least make it stop running? I think I burned out the motor or something.

Peeling and grating the ginger was fun. I grated the ginger, several of my nails, and part of one knuckle. Yummy. The recipe called for pureeing, but since our blender is about as old as I am and has only 3 speeds (“Lo”, “Hi” and “Off”), I went with the grater instead. A two-minute boil with a cup of sugar and the lime juice and then right to the straining. If they bottled Thailand, and added a touch of sandalwood, it might smell like this.

Ginger and limes together work for the strangest reasons. Both are tangy, ginger’s spice blends wtih the citrus. The scent is amazing; Bath & Body Works used to make a ginger lime body wash that I loved. It reminded me of the food I ate in Thailand- the limes, chilis, ginger and peppers. If you love it you love it, if you don’t it’s a mishmash of tastes that does battle on your palate. Drizzling a little ginger and lime on chicken or in a cocktail, mixing it with soy as a marinade for fish and it gives body, texture, a denseness.

It’s like love. Why think about it? Enjoy it.

(Yeah, that’s not good enough for me either. May have to do some research.)

Liz’s version of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Ginger-Lime Syrup
(makes 1 cup)

4 oz fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup sugar

In a small saucepan, combine all three and bring to a boil.
Boil for 2 minutes. Let cool until warm.
Over a small bowl, pour the mixture into a fine strainer. Using a spoon, scrape the mixture against the strainer until all the liquid is in the bowl.
It refrigerates well, by the way.

(Food&Wine September 2006)


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