When I started Mango & Tomato in May of 2008, I had no idea that it would help me meet wonderful people, sample food from new restaurants and take me on some incredible adventures. Last weekend, I got to do all three when I was invited to an all-expenses paid POM Harvest Tour. The other lucky bloggers on the tour were (in no particular order. Plus, we had a great company of POM's employees Andrea and Mike):
On Saturday morning we took two mini planes to fly over the pomegranate orchards. I've never flown in such a little plane before and was slightly nervous, but our pilot was great. In fact, I got to sit in the co-pilot's seat for a while: my dad would be so proud: he was a co-pilot in the Russian Air force!
I love how tiny I look next to the plane :)
Below is an image taken from the plane of pomegranate orchards, almond and pistachio orchards. You have no idea how hard it was to narrow down the number of photos for this post! I was very tempted to just post a zillion photos and leave this post wordless.
Welcome to the orchards! This was like Christmas in October. Don't the pomegranates look like Christmas ornaments? I learned that each pomegranate gets picked by hand: no machines are involved. If you notice the slightly dusty look to the leaves, it's because the trees get sprayed with a clay powder to prevent the pomegranates from being sunburned. Perhaps I should try the same for my super light complexion? :)
Here is a pomegranate on its way to getting bigger, redder, and eventually turning up at your local store or in a bottle of POM juice or tea.
And here is one of the many perfectly red and ripe pomegranates. (Note: we learned that the color of a pomegranate doesn't necessarily guarantee its ripeness. A slightly pinker outside color can result in as juicy of a pomegranate as the one that is deep red on the outside. Make sure when you purchase pomegranates that they are heavy for their weight, don't have any soft spots or cracks.)
Our expert for the day was Bernard Puget, Head Ranch and Farm Manager. How cool is that title? Bernard showed us one of the ways to open a pomegranate:
1. Score around the top of the pomegranate and remove the top.
2. Score lines going down the pomegranate where you can see the white division (don't score too deeply).
3. Separate the pomegranate into sections and enjoy!
Here are a few more photos. Thanks to the lovely Paula for taking a photo of me. It's amazing how nicely pomegranates fit in your hands.
And I totally stole an idea for this photo from Rachael. But I just could not help it: Nicole is such an awesome hand model!
And just when I thought the excitement was over, we walked across a dirt road to see how pistachios grow and got to taste some of them right off the trees! Aren't the pink shells super pretty?
And if pomegranates and pistachios weren't enough, there were also almond orchards!
We left the orchards, hopped back on our mini planes and headed back to our hotel. Some of use went back to catch flights back home, the others (including me, Paula, Rachael, Nicole and Jen, who drove all the way from LA) headed out to chill for a bit and then to a fun sushi dinner at which I learned that you don't eat miso soup with a spoon--you sip it!
While we were returning to our regular lives, dozens of POM employees were out in the orchards picking the pomegranates, and for that I thank them!