Friday, March 20, 2015

Drinks with Reads: Pomegranate Campari Cocktail & The Company She Keeps

Author Diana Chambers is here teaching us the easy way to extract pomegranate seeds and how to make a Pomegranate Campari Cocktail -- the perfect accompaniment to her new book, The Company She Keeps. 

Iran. About as far as you can get from Alert, North Carolina, but life takes you places.

First stop Georgetown, DC, where Evelyn Walker learns from CIA officer Nick Daley that her smart techie boyfriend is a Soviet mole. The daughter of a military man, “E” follows the path of duty, which leads her deep into the realm of espionage with its deceit, glamour, and sexual intrigue. Too deep, she later realizes—too late. Now back from Afghanistan (my novel Stinger), Nick grows to care for his agent. Yet he is forced to send her into a world of danger, from Europe’s grand boulevards to Iran’s Grand Bazaar. 

After one betrayal too many, E resigns from “The Company” and moves to Paris where she meets Iranian importer Kari Mansour. When Nick later informs her that Karim is in fact an arms dealer, she defends him hotly and her lover confirms he was set-up. The couple marries and, pursued by US and French intelligence, flee to Tehran, where E must adapt to new ways in the land of the Ayatollahs. Beginning with learning to wear a veil. 

Karim’s boyhood nanny, Fatma, teaches E how to make Persian rice (see my recipe in The MWA Cookbook, published by Quirk Books). A devoted gardener and rose-lover, Karim also grows pomegranates, a native Persian fruit that spread along the Silk Road. Having lived twenty years in France, he is not a teetotaler, but the beauty of this drink is that it is delicious with or without Campari.

Fatma’s traditional way to extract seeds: Score pomegranate around middle. Gently twist open over a bowl and ease skin from seeds. 

Hold half seed-side down over bowl and tap skin with wooden spoon, rotating in palm. 

To make juice, push seeds through fine-mesh sieve into container. (For me, this method produced 6 ounces from 1 pomegranate.)

Pomegranate Campari Cocktail

2 parts chilled pomegranate juice (via sieve, juicer, or store)
3 parts chilled soda 
1 part Campari

Add juices and soda to glass. Top with Campari and pomegranate seeds as garnish. (You can also serve it as a tall drink with ice, especially gorgeous if you substitute 1 part fresh orange juice for 1 part soda).

Diana Chambers was born with a book in one hand and a passport in the other. Before long, she was wandering Paris cobblestones. Later, an Asian importing business led to Hollywood costume design, then scriptwriting—until her characters demanded their own novels. And so CIA officer Nick Daley shows up in Stinger, somewhere near the Khyber Pass. When he recruits Eve Walker in The Company She Keeps, their cases take them from Paris to Iran. Following disastrous complications, the two reunite in Diana’s current project, Into the Fire, set in Southeast Asia. Diana lives in a small Northern California town with her Fellow Traveler husband, arty daughter, and steadfast mutt. She is a member of Writers Guild of America, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime-NorCal board. Her bag is always packed.,,

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