Friday 12 August 2011

Summer Drinks

High summer: drinking tea on the lower terrace and watching the early morning sun wash over the south lawn; long, afternoon siestas in a darkened room, as the town dozes all around (those few who haven't departed for the beaches of Calabria or Sicily, that is) ; evenings spent mowing the grass and endlessly watering the garden; dinner, late,  by candle-light in the courtyard, under the stars. We eat differently in summer - less time to cook, since the garden is so demanding, and less inclination to stand near a hot stove or oven in these sorts of temperatures. Salads and chilled soups have replaced pasta and risotto; sorbets, and ice creams, and fresh fruit in chilled prosecco (with lemon zest and crushed mint...delicious!) instead of tarts and stuffed crepes and soufflés.

And we drink differently, too.

Sometimes daiquiris - peach, or apricot by preference, although strawberries work too, and so do bananas, and raspberries:
In a blender, combine the flesh of a whole peach per person (or equivalent amount of whichever fruit you have to hand) with a handful of crushed ice, 2 fluid oz of rum, a tablespoon of lime juice and one and a half tablespoons of sugar syrup (made in advance and kept in the fridge: 2 cups of sugar boiled for three minutes with one cup of water, then cooled and chilled). Blitz the whole thing for about a minute, and serve in chilled glasses. Then get ready to make more, as one is never enough!

But recently, after Sarah introduced us to the concept, when she came to stay for a few days, we've been drinking Bitter col bianco. A slug (technical term, meaning approximately a generous tablespoon) of campari in the bottom of a champagne flute, then topped up with chilled prosecco. Beyond excellent! And none of that rather depressing process whereby the ice in the campari and soda melts into the drink and renders it progressively weaker and less enjoyable as the level in the glass descends.

Tonight's Dinner:

Poached Eggs on a bed of spinach, with Gruyère Sauce.

Fiorentina, with Rocket and Parmesan (dressed lightly with sesame oil, rather than olive oil, and lemon).