When I first moved to the UK lots of people asked me if there was anything I would miss from California. I gave the obvious answers: family, friends, Californian zinfandel, sunshine. But it never even crossed my mind that there was something bound up in California’s identity that is nearly impossible to find in the UK: Mexican food.
So this salad is just, like, incredible. Believe me, I needed convincing too because melon is at the top of my ‘don’t like’ list. Melon and cucumber are the two foods that I have not grown to like as I’ve reached adulthood. But somehow, in some magical, mysterious way, the honey dew in this recipe works. Maybe it’s the punchy cilantro or the fiery kick of jalapeño drawing the attention away from the paltry, watery sweetness of the melon. Or maybe it’s the tartness of the unripe green tomatoes that just seems to create such a harmonious bowl of food.
As soon as we walked into Zona Rosa in San Jose’s Rose Garden neighborhood, I was in love. It is so intimate, so welcoming and full of charm and character. We had called ahead and made a reservation — just in case it was a busy place for weekday lunches, which it proved to be — and the smiling front of house staff knew who we were as soon as we walked in and we were given a choice of where to sit. There can’t be more than eight tables in the small rectangular room, but there is also a lovely patio area with umbrellas to keep you out of the midday sun. As it was nearly 95°F we elected to sit inside and were made very comfortable in a really cute little table for two in the window.