Heirloom Melons: Swan Lake

Swan Lake is an heirloom melon with a sensational honey-like flavor and a custardy texture. It's my new favorite melon. I had never even heard of heirloom melons until last weekend when I ran into this guy selling them at the Bayou City Farmer's market on Richmond.

Garth Travis grows several kinds of heirloom melons. He had three varieties left when I stopped by his booth at the farmer's market. I bought one of each. The most alluring-looking was one called a Jenny Lind, after the Swedish opera star of the 1880s. It was shaped like a muskmelon with a big nipple-like protrusion at one end. I imagined it was going to be exceptionally succulent, but in fact, the green flesh tasted like a not-very-sweet honeydew. A dark-green variety called a winter melon is supposed to ripen for a couple months, so I didn't cut into it yet.

Garth and Kim Travis have a farm out west of Huntsville in a town called Bedias. They are urban drop-outs looking for a way to create a living out of sustainable agriculture. They call their place The Rose Colored Forest and explain their complicated belief system on their website. Personally, I find their philosophical musings a lot less interesting than their heirloom melons.

I am entertaining the idea of driving out there to get first pick of the Swan Lakes. I want to cut five or six big Swan Lake melons in half, stuff each side with homemade vanilla ice cream and serve them for dessert at a fancy dinner party.

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