Winter in California is the season for arugula, along with many other lettuces. A few years ago we planted some in our garden and now each year the arugula re-seeds itself and takes over with a flourish, starting in December. Arugula was popularized a few years ago as a central component of California cuisine. For those unfamiliar with it, it tastes a lot like watercress – peppery and slightly bitter. In this recipe the goat cheese mellows the pepperiness of the arugula, while the beets offer a sweet contrast to its bitter quality. Chopped walnuts add a little more texture to the salad.
Walk in to practically any taqueria in California and you’ll likely find super-sized containers of agua frescas, right next to the soda dispenser. The usual flavors are horchata (a sweet rice drink), tamarindo (from tamarind, and agua de jamaica (pronounced hah-MY-kah), an infusion of dried red hibiscus flowers.