Recipe by Chef Jeff Mall, down home: downtown
Makes 4 first-course servings
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 jalapeño chile, seeded and minced
1 ripe cantaloupe or honeydew melon (about 2 1⁄2 pounds), halved and seeded
1 cup buttermilk
1⁄4 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar, plus more to taste
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
2 teaspoons kosher salt
About 1⁄4 cup crème fraîche for serving
In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the jalapeño and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Scoop out the flesh of the melon and cut it into small chunks. Working in batches if necessary, put the melon chunks in a blender with the buttermilk, the 1⁄4 cup rice wine vinegar, the mint, and salt. Puree until smooth. Add the jalapeño and pulse to mix. Taste and add more vinegar as desired (up to 1⁄4 cup, depending on the sweetness of the melon).
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours; whisk to recombine before serving. To serve, ladle into shallow bowls and dollop with the crème fraîche.
Photography by Alan Campbell Photography