An appetiser and aperitif all in one sunny melon bowl - I use the local Pineau des Charentes to fill up these charentais melon starters, but white port, fino sherry or any fortified wine would be just as good. Charentais melons are grown mainly in SW France and Spain and have a smooth pale green to creamy yellow skin. The very juicy flesh is deep orange in colour and it is one of the best dessert melons; they are also great in fruit salads, as well as being used as a refreshing starter course - as in this recipe. Preparation time includes the 4 hours to chill prior to serving them. If you cannot get fresh mint sprigs - use any attractive, edible leaves or herbs - maybe even a flower.
- To prepare: Halve and remove the pips and fibres. Cut a small piece from the bottom of each melon so they sit upright in a bowl.
- Run a knife carefully around the top edge of the melon, as you would prepare a grapefruit. Then cut the flesh in to segments - going as deep as you can without damaging the outer skin - almost like a sunburst pattern - like rays of the sun! Wiggle the knife around to make them quite deep - the liquor will seep into them whilst they are chilling. Place the melon halves in attractive individual serving bowls.
- Pour in the pineau, sherry or port until the centre of the melon is filled - making sure that it is not too full as it will run over. Place the filled melon halves in the fridge for about 4 hours to chill before serving. Place a mint sprig into each melon half to serve.
- To store - Keep uncut melons at room temperature until fully ripened, then store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Cut melon should always be covered with Clingfilm and used within 3 days.