Sipping the Summertime Sun
By Don Merlot
Junto Staff Writer
Summer went by so quickly that we did not pause to analyze the traditions of summer food and wine or review the applications of the varietal grapes or beverages at meal time with all the summer menus in mind. When we think of summer we think of cold icy beverages and warm weather outdoor cooking and light spicy foods.
To many wine aficionados the refreshing drink on a hot summer day in the summer is Sangria – a contribution from Spain (Iberia). Red wine or white wine [white and sangre (red blood) sounds like an oxymoron in the same word] but that is the choice. The favourite mélange of this recipe is mixing your choice of wine (red, white or rosé) with brandy (this could be flavoured with orange or citrus) in a giant pitcher of ice with fresh fruits (mostly what is in season and or goes with the wine) that have been de-seeded and carefully cut in small cubes. (red wine with orange and lemon slices and add that 'Je ne sais quoi'! And with white sangria make sure to include apples and peaches and even some pieces of ripe pineapple.
The fruit should be ripe and mature and not take away the flavours of the wine. Red wines absorb cherries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. White wines are great with apples, peaches, and pineapples. If you cannot find them fresh go to the frozen section in your supermarket and find a frozen can of the berries.
Serve with ice cubes. Treat this drink as a fortified drink as it does have brandy.
What to serve? Cheeses, cold cuts, shrimp soaked in garlic and olive oil and/or skewered and grilled over hot coals... Also skewer some scallops wrapped in bacon or pancetta. Small cubes of sirloin can be sprayed with olive oil and rubbed with spicy paprika and slip on to a metal skewer – pinchos Morruños Olé!
Spain is famous for this cold soup: Gazpacho Andaluz. There is a potato salad made with All-i-oli that is served cold and is a classic on a summer day.
Another note: The origin of mayonnaise has some nationalistic arguments, but most likely picked up by the French from the Spanish Island of Minorca in the Port of Mahon. (p.586, The Penguin Companion to Food by Alan Davidson) in 1756, and taken to French King's chefs, and it became 'mayonnaise' instead of 'Mahonnaise.'
All-i-oli (P.9) is garlic added to mayonnaise; it is used in Galician potato salad, over grilled or poached fish and is popular dish in Cataluña and the Pyrenees and Southern France.
Other old world beverages popular in the summer is the French Kir: This Aperitif is served cold and contains white wine (Aligoté in Burgundy, France) that is mixed with Crème de Cassis (Boysenberry liqueur). Mix one part cassis and 5 parts white wine. (Serve chilled). Santé
This white wine can be substituted with a sparkling white wine. It is then called a Kir Royal. In France many observe that aperitifs are not Alcohol as Scotch, Gin or Whiskies, but fruity wine beverages...
A popular American aperitif is the Mimosa – Sparkling White wine and orange juice. In eternal summer New Orleans many breakfast are served with Mimosas, Eggs Benedictine, pain Perdue et grillades – Viola!
If Aperitifs have their place in the old world they are not that popular in the new world. The preferred summer beverage is going to be ice cold beer. In the last decade margaritas – Lime juice, tequila and curaçao – and use salt on the rim of the glass at your discretion; served on ice or cubes or from the soft serve machine.
(Don Merlot is the nom de plume of Ron Alonzo, Junto's principal food and drink writer. He lives in Florida, from where, as an international businessman, he travels the world).