Clementines make me happy. I find their personality to be buoyant, sprightly and specific. They have a fantastic burst of acid, almost as powerful and sudden as a lemon or Meyer lemon, and exceptional zest. I eat them, when I get lucky enough to find them, delightedly, one after another in winter.
Last night I had an exceptional Clementine sorbet at Delfina. It used to be that one could only find them as an import from Spain. But nowadays they are grown by a number of small farmers in California. Tonight I picked some up at Rainbow, and last week I found them at the Saturday Berkeley Farmer's market.
They are not terribly easy to peel, but for the effort of this, or cutting them into small boat-shaped wedges, your mouth will be well rewarded.
I hope you're able to have some this winter. The citrus crop of 2006/2007 will be small, expensive and very possibly hit or miss on taste quality. They are still recovering from hurricanes and a lack of bees to pollinate.
Look for tight skinned, small pored, shiny, very orange globes. A good rule of thumb to know with citrus: look for fruit "heavy" for it's size, refrigerate when you get home, even if you don't like eating cold fruit. If the latter is the case, take citrus out 1/2-1 hour before eating. But remember, citrus is a winter fruit. It does not like being frozen, but the juice will turn to alcohol immediately if not kept cold.
For all you Americans, I wish you this:
I hope you get to eat all your favorite foods on Thanksgiving.
For the rest of the world: Don't let the turkeys get you down.