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.
Photos by Robb Walsh
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.