In the summer, I naturally gravitate towards great summer wines like Pinot Gris, Rieslings, and sparkling wines. However, as much as I love wine, a recent dining experience at Pepe and Gringo's reminded me of how much I love a good lime margarita.
Of course I need only look to cultures that thrive in warmer climates to be turned onto drinks that refresh, replenish, and sometimes inspire revolution. The following are some examples of great summer drinks.
Jamaicans are known for their ginger beer, which pairs well with spicy chicken and pork. You can chop about a quarter pound of ginger root and add to a blender with three cups of water and two-thirds cups of sugar and purée well.
Leave this mixture for at least 30 minutes or even overnight to extract the flavour. Strain the mixture into a pitcher add enough water to make two quarts and squeeze in the juice of two to three lemons and or limes and more sugar if need be. Serve this over ice while dancing to Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" and your sunset will be that much sweeter.
Venice, Italy in the 1930s was the birthplace of the Bellini cocktail. Named after Renaissance painter Giovanni Bellini, who was famous for his depictions of the gentle humanities of Christ and his own spiritual awakenings, inspired this beautifully hued drink, that will refresh your spirit.
Traditionally made with white peaches, any two large sweet peaches will do. Just pit and chop into a blender and then strain into glass pitcher. Add a chilled bottle of Prosecco or other sparkling white wine and stir oh so gently. Serve in tall glasses or champagne flutes with some antipasto while listening to Pavarotti sing Ave Maria.
One of the sexiest summer cocktails has to be the famous Cuban Mojito. This cocktail comes from the African word mojo, which means to cast a little spell, and depending on how many you drink you may be inclined to believe it.
Earnest Hemmingway spoke of it, James Bond drank them in Die Another Day, and pirates are thought to have invented it. Start by making simple syrup by heating one part sugar with one part water until dissolved; cool before using. Gently crush 12 fresh mint leaves and one sliced lime in a highball glass with a muddler or the back of a spoon. Add syrup and fill with ice. Add an ounce of rum and top with club soda and garnish with lime and mint.
Put on some sunglasses, a khaki shirt and a Cuban cigar if you are so inclined to help to set the mood. But be forewarned that you may be prone to write a novel or maybe even start a revolution.
Simple nectarine and blueberry tart
250 grams of puff pastry
3/4 cup of blueberries
1 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp of demerara sugar
Icing/confectioners sugar to dust (optional)
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C. On a lightly floured board roll the pastry to 5mm thick and cut in half to form two even sized rectangles. Using a fork press a neat border on the fringe of each rectangle.
Place the pastry onto a lined baking tray, cover and refrigerate while you prepare the fruit. Wash and dry your nectarines, cut each in half and then each half into neat slices. Pat the nectarine slices on absorbent paper towels if the are dripping in juice.
Arrange the nectarine slices neatly onto each pastry rectangle and scatter with the blueberries.
Dot over the butter and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden and bubbly. Allow to rest for a few minutes before dusting with icing sugar and slicing.
Makes 2 tarts serving 4 to 6