italian lemon slush

italian lemon slush cocktail

I can’t imagine there’s anything I wouldn’t love about the city of Venice. Since I haven’t been there yet I remain a vicarious traveler; picturing a sepia-colored city like no other, floating over an ancient network of canals, all those mysterious alleyways winding through a landscape of crumbling palaces.

Twenty-seven summers ago my best friend took off in the direction of Europe, with no real itinerary or return date. I’d planned up until the last minute to go with her, saving all my waitressing cash in a box under my mattress, but drama overrode – it became suddenly necessary that I break up with my then-boyfriend and find a new apartment. How unromantic!

lemon peel syrup for italian slush

Everything worked out fine in the end, but missing that adventure was my regret. In the middle of her travels, my friend called me from Venice; she was running out of money but still hoping I’d change my mind and meet her there in Italy.

I felt a tiny bit jealous that she was in a place I’d only ever dreamed about seeing, until she described the harrowing time she was having there; getting off the train alone in the middle of the night, finding the Piazza San Marco teeming with rats and also a few human ones intent on stealing her backpack and who knows what else.

It can happen in any city anywhere, but somehow, knowing it was less than paradise at that moment in Venice made it a little easier to accept what I was missing.
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Rhubarb Bellini

rhubard-bellini-recipe

I usually drink my bubbles straight up, but sometimes it’s fun to play around with the basics. A glass of cold, cold Prosecco is soooo nice at the end of a long day, especially a very warm, humid one.

I had a few rhubarb stalks, not enough to bake with, so I made a puree with some sugar and lemon – perfect for a variation on the classic peachy Bellini.

Unless you’re having a party, you’ll most likely have some leftover rhubarb puree (it makes more than enough for a bottle’s worth of Bellini’s), but it’s delicious on scones, toast or gelato.

rhubarb-bellini-cocktail-recipe

Rhubarb Bellini

Serving Size: 8

Ingredients

  1. 2 cups rhubarb, chopped (about 2 large stalks)
  2. 1/2 cup cane sugar
  3. 1/4 cup water
  4. Thinly peeled zest and juice from 1 lemon
  5. Chilled Prosecco

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to a slow bubble and cook until the rhubarb softens to a mushy texture, about 15 minutes.
  2. Puree the rhubarb with an immersion blender, small food processor or by hand with a potato masher until smooth. Refrigerate until cold. Or if you're very thirsty, chill the puree in a bowl of ice water until cold.
  3. Pop open a bottle of cold Prosecco or other sparkling wine. Spoon 1 - 2 tablespoons of the puree into flutes. Pour some Prosecco over, stir to blend and top off with more Prosecco, pouring gradually ( the mixture will bubble madly for a minute).
  4. Salute!
http://familystylefood.com/2011/06/rhubarb-bellini/

Italian greyhound with rosemary sugar

Gin and Grapefruit with Rosemary

It’s pretty close to a new season, when there’s not much better than lingering with a cocktail at the end of the day, celebrating the return of warm sun and longer days.

It also means that dinner gets cooked and eaten later than usual, but that’s all part of getting into summer mode. I stock up on chilled rosé for summer drinking, but every once in a while I like to start the night (or afternoon. Ahem) off with something a little lighter in alcohol.

A few weeks ago, Molly of Orangette wrote about a pretty salmon-colored drink she liked that included the liqueur Aperol, a brand of Italian bitters very much like Campari.

That drink, a Pamplemousse, is mixed with fresh grapefruit juice and white wine. But it reminded me how refreshing grapefruit juice can be in a cocktail, especially with gin in a warm weather drink, blended into Salty Dogs or Greyhounds.

After a short search around my local liquor stores, I rounded up a bottle of Aperol. As much as I love a simple Campari and soda with lime, Aperol might be even better to my taste. It’s not quite as bitter and has a tiny bit more sweetness and more complex hints of herbal-citrus flavors.

Rosemary Sugar

I made my Italian Greyhound and embellished it a little by rimming the glass with rosemary sugar – easily made in a mini food processor or spice grinder: 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary and 1/4 cup sugar.

Italian Greyhound Cocktail with Rosemary Sugar

I love, love, love this drink! It makes me appreciate gin – a spirit I don’t usually drink- all those herbs, roots and botanicals get along so nicely together and it’s dangerously thirst-quenching.

Italian Greyhound with Rosemary Sugar

Yield: makes one drink

Ingredients

    Rosemary Sugar
  1. 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 1 -2 ounces gin (depending on the time of day)
  4. 4 ounces freshly squeezed pink or red grapefruit juice
  5. Splash Aperol

Instructions

  1. Combine the rosemary and sugar.
  2. Rub the edge of a glass on a wedge of fresh citrus - grapefruit would be perfect. Put some of the rosemary sugar on a plate and rim the glass.
  3. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Add the gin and juice, and top with a splash or two of Aperol.
  4. Swirl or stir gently - enjoy.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/04/italian-greyhound-with-rosemary-sugar/