Saturday, March 26, 2016

Grape Chia Fresca with Frozen Grape "Ice Cubes" for Food 'N Flix March: A Walk in the Clouds

Our Food 'N Flix pick for March is the 1995 romantic drama A Walk in the Clouds starring Keanu Reeves and hosted by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. (See her announcement post here.)

If you haven't seen it, the movie stars Keanu Reeves as Paul Sutton, a soldier returning from fighting overseas in WWII it is about a young soldier returning home from World War II to his war bride and to a job he doesn't want, selling chocolates. On a trip to Sacramento, he meets Victoria Aragon, who has been away at university and is heading home to her family's vineyard in the Napa Valley. Victoria is pregnant by one of her professors and is afraid to tell her family, so Paul volunteers to pretend to be her husband, meet her family and leave them thinking he abandoned her--making himself the bad guy. At the vineyard, Paul receives a very cold reception from her father, but her grandfather Don Pedro (the always wonderful, late actor Anthony Quinn) welcomes him and convinces him to stay for the harvest. After that it is lots of drama and romance as Paul and Victoria try to fight their growing feelings and disaster looms.

I saw this movie once years ago and have caught parts of it on cable. It is a definite chick-flick, pretty to view but not a lot of substance or surprise, but that's OK. Any scene with Anthony Quinn sparkles, Keanu is earnest, and the scenery is beautiful--with a magical, almost painted look to it. If you want some sweet, feel-good romance, this movie has it. 

This is the first time that I watched A Walk in the Clouds, noticing the food and although there isn't a lot, there is some food presence to take inspiration from. In addition to the grapes and the wine, there is Paul's case of chocolates that Don Pedro eats most of, the family recipe for Squash Blossom Soup--handed down for generations, harvest celebration parties, Don Pedro's special home-brewed brandy, and of course wine and plenty of grapes. 

There was a harvest scene where one of the women is carrying pitchers of what looked like lemonade and that made me think of making a pitcher of grape sangria--combining the fruit and juice with wine and brandy. Sadly, I can't drink alcohol at the moment due to a prescription I am on, so I decided to turn my grape sangria into a grape agua fresca or "fresh water" with fruit and sweetener blended with water. But finally I decided that while I love a good agua fresca on a warm day, the only thing I like even more is when I add chia seeds and it becomes a chia fresca. The chia seeds add extra nutrients like protein and essential fatty acids, providing energy and thickening the drink with their gel.

This Grape Chia Fresca is what I would want to be drinking on a warm day, working to bring in a grape harvest. ;-) I wanted it to have a more complex flavor and be less sweet, so I added lime juice and used a combination of fresh red and green grapes along with some unfiltered Concord Grape Juice. To keep it cold without watering it down, I froze extra red and green grapes to put in the glass and act as ice cubes.

Grape Chia Fresca with Frozen Grape "Ice Cubes"
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 2 Quarts)

4 cups seedless grapes of choice (I used red & green) + 2 cups for frozen grape ice cubes 
2 cups cold, filtered water
2 cups natural Concord grape juice
1 cup lime juice (or lemon juice, or combination)
1/3 cup chia seeds (I used white chia)
honey to taste, optional
frozen grape ice cubes (see note below) optional

Place seedless grapes and water into a blender and puree. Strain through mesh strainer, discarding the solids and placing the liquid into a large pitcher

Add Concord grape juice and lime juice to the pitcher. Taste and sweeten with honey if desired. (Whether to use sweetener and how much will depend on the sweetness of your grapes and personal preference--I like mine slightly tart and did not use any honey.

Stir in chia seeds and allow to sit for 15 minutes or so to allow the chia seeds to begin swelling. Place in refrigerator for a couple of hours to chill and so chia seeds continue to gel.

When ready to serve: Stir chia fresca well. Fill glasses with ice or frozen grapes and add chilled chia fresca. Garnish with mint and serve. 

Frozen Grape Ice Cubes: Place seedless grapes (washed and patted dry) on a tray in the freezer and freeze several hours or overnight until solid. Use in place of ice cubes to chill drink without water it down. Keep stored in freezer until ready to serve your drink.

Notes/Results: I've made lots of agua frescas and chia frescas but I think that this is my new favorite. The grape flavor, combined with the lime juice, is fruity and delicious, not too sweet and tangy enough to be ultra refreshing. I think this particular batch worked well but you could adjust it--the sweetness, whether you just use blended grapes or add in the Concord juice, change the type of grapes, etc. If you want bubbles, you can add soda water to the glass before serving, and if drinking, a bit of rum or tequila would be nice. The grape "ice cubes" work really well--they cool the beverage down and are slushy inside in about ten minutes--just tell your guests not to bite into them until then. ;-) I will definitely make this again.

The deadline for this round of Food 'N Flix is Tuesday, March 29th and Wendy will be rounding up the entries on her blog soon after. If you missed out on this round but love food, films, and foodie films, join us for April when Heather of All Roads Lead to the Kitchen (and Food 'N Flix's founder) is hosting the Japanese "noodle western," Tampopo



  1. Great inspiration Deb...I love this recipe!!

  2. As the weather warms and I get off my three cup-o-coffee mornings, I look to refreshing cold beverages. I love this idea. (Although sangria would have been a great recipe for the film, too.) I add chia to most drinks---green tea is my favorite iced beverage. Trying this soon! (Might use Pom though.)

  3. I love absolutely any type of chia fresca...and the color on this one is particularly inviting. Love where you took this. :)

  4. This is so gorgeous! Great inspiration!


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