Showing posts from June, 2019

Summer aperitifs

Summer brings a special character to my dinners. The table erupts with colour as I add edible flowers and specialist herbs like bronze fennel or red oxalis as garnishes. I have a loose-weave tablecloth that shows the colour of green, pink or blue undercloths beneath. Table flowers are chosen for their scent as well as their colour, and freesias are a favourite. With so much colour on the dining table, I love to serve colourful and frivolous aperitif drinks, too. One such is the Douglas Fairbanks cocktail. As befits a handsome and daring actor, the cocktail is strong, sharp and fruity. Douglas Fairbanks 60ml dry gin 20ml apricot brandy 10ml fresh lime juice 15ml egg white Place all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake hard until your hand can't stand the cold. Double-strain into a coupe glass and garnish with slices of lime and cocktail cherries. Pimms & lemonade has become synonymous with the English summer, garnished with heaps of fruit, cucumber


As I write this, the ever-reliable English weather has just released another shower of rain. The week has been a mix of warm sunshine and cold, wind-driven rain, alternating rapidly. Summer is so often short-lived in Britain that the Beloved and I try to make the most of it when it comes. One of the our  pleasures is to sit outside with an evening aperitif, listening to the screaming of swifts, and blackbirds singing on the chimney pots. Although I love a gin & tonic or a spritz as much as anyone, when I'm having a quiet moment in the evening sun, my aperitif of choice is an aromatised wine that doesn't even have a real name. I suppose it's the successor to the medieval hypocras or a very simple vermouth. It's made from rosé wine and orange peel and tastes not unlike marmalade. I found the recipe in Jeanne Strang's wonderful Goose Fat and Garlic, a book of recipes and remembrances from the west of France. I've made this lovely drink for a number of year