Last year, I was sitting at breakfast telling two of my B&B guests--Smiti and Partha--about my interest in making aperitifs. Unfortunately, I sighed, I'd missed bergamot season--a short, barely three -week-long affair that runs from the end of December to the middle of January. My favorite aperitif recipe (made by friends in Berkeley) featured this hard-to-find sour orange, and, since it was already mid-February, I had sadly resigned myself to waiting another year before trying my hand at making it.
Partha looked at Smiti, then at me. "We have a 50-year-old bergamot tree in our backyard in Sunnyvale. It's loaded with fruit, and you're free to have all you want."
My reaction must have startled him. It was as if he had said to Jason (of Argonaut fame), "FYI, there's a golden fleece in my backyard and it's all yours."
That next week, my husband, who works in Silicon Valley, dropped by and picked up a bulging sack of bergamots, where they sat for another week while I tried to work up my nerve.