Friday, 26 June 2015

Cocktail of the month: Midsummer potion

I took this dress to a fabulous party last weekend, although I'm starting to think it took me. It only gets out of the wardrobe for the best invitations and I am a mere vehicle for its wonder. The last time we ventured out together was to the opening of a sculpture exhibition in the garden of a beautiful inn overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

On that occasion the artist admired my dress and I planned to take one of the sculptures home before remembering the tyranny of the baggage allowance.

At the party last weekend, which was in The Fens rather than California, the artist (the wonderful Karen) also admired my dress. Apparently, we (my dress and I) had nailed the "Margot from the The Good Life" look. Happily this was the exactly the look we were going for.

I had promised to bring a cocktail. The party was to be a wondrous midsummer extravaganza focused on fire. I had to attempt a themed drink. Aperol seemed a suitable summery choice and the right colour for this fire festival. The addition of vodka (or gin) was essential to keep the booze hounds happy (a guest at this party invented The Sugar Wolf cocktail: I had some serious drinkers to impress). I added herbs and bitters to complete the potion and cast my spell. It is designed to be assembled in a jug in large quantities, then poured out into glasses as needed and topped with sparkling water. 

Photo by the amazing Karen Harvey
Midsummer potion

3 parts Aperol
3 parts gin or vodka
4 parts freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 parts herb infused simple syrup (I used a mixture of lemon balm, rosemary and lavender)
Several drops lavender bitters
Several drops rhubarb bitters
Several drops Angostura bitters
Herbs to garnish and soda water to finish

Combine all of the ingredients in a jug. Stir until combined. Add plenty of ice to a glass, fill 3/4 glass with cocktail mixture, top with soda water and garnish with fresh herbs. Prancing around in a flowery dress is optional.

You can hear me talking about this cocktail on Flavour on Cambridge 105 on Saturday 27th June at 12pm.

Photo by the amazing Karen Harvey

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Allotment diary part 9: messy abundance

Growing things on an allotment feels very grown up. As I'm often surprised to find that I am actually an adult, I find myself playing down the grown-up aspect of it. I say "yes I have an allotment but it's tiny" or "I do have an allotment but its mainly weeds". Both of things are true. But neither the size and straggly state of my allotment negate the joy and abundance it brings to my life. Today beneath a tangle of grass and dead leaves I unearthed a feast of sweet strawberries. Amongst the the ground elder and the bindweed Anthony dug out the first potatoes.

Inside the world's worst fruit cage, the gooseberries are growing fat alongside the wild mint and the blackcurrant bush, heavy with ripening berries, is touching a ground concealed by speedwell.

My proudest allotment accomplishments are a hedge of lavender and a row of marigolds. The allotment is no show garden but that's OK. In between the weeds, the ants and the stones there is happiness.