Originating from China, blood oranges now primarily grow in Italy (tarocco) and Spain (sanguinello) and are ripe for the picking in February. They differ from oranges in their deep red colour, tougher skin and sweeter taste. While they’re prevalent in Mediterranean cuisine, particularly in salads, they have since become popular as an accompaniment to seafood dishes and dessert.
‘Blood oranges are a great change of pace from regular oranges because of their bright maroon colour and unique flavour, which has an almost raspberry-like quality,’ says Liz Stevenson, pastry chef at The Ivy Dubai. ‘During January and February, we source them from Sicily when they are at their ripest.’ Liz explains that the high acidity of the fruit complements creamy desserts, while for a dairy-free dessert the juice makes a lovely jelly.
Richard Sandoval, the man behind Toro Toro at Grosvenor House, the latest Latin American gem to drop into Dubai, uses the bitterness of blood oranges in contrast to sweet, crispy calamari, a dish that also features inventive chilli cabbage (cabbage being another European vegetable currently in season).
‘A blood-orange sorbet or granita also works as a palate-cleanser following a main course. For a savoury dish, try pairing the oranges with pigeon,’ says Liz.
Blood-orange pavlova, Dhs60, available on the Valentine’s menu at The Ivy, Emirates Towers (04 319 8767). Crispy calamari with blood orange reduction, Dhs70, available at Toro Toro, Grosvenor House Tower 2 (04 399 8888).