I’d prefer not to curse here on the blog – but this recipe is *&$#%@ de-li-cious. I first heard about the infamous Aperol spritz back in the day from my best friend Adam who wouldn’t shut up about the damn things. Perhaps I was jealous that he had been to Italy and I hadn’t. Frankly, I just wasn’t into sipping anything that didn’t contain rum and/or Coke. Quite a bit has changed since then. I’m married, I have a big fluffy dog, and I carry a concealed mini-bottle of Aperol on me at all times (it’s a great conversation starter). So when Erica and Karen came home from Florence raving about their new favorite cocktail, the Aperol spritz, this time I was prepared. As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been on a frozen kick lately (I blame summer) so a float was the logical move to make. So if you’re a fan of Aperol, Prosecco, sorbet or all of the above, do yourself a favor and give these a try!
Start by making the Aperol sorbet. If your ice cream machine requires any prep, such as freezing the machine’s base, be sure to do so in advance.
A few weeks ago, Erica and I went on a short trip to Florence to have some fashion fun with Luisa Via Roma. It was my first time in Italy ever and I just fell in love with Florence– I mean, who doesn’t? It is just so damn charming, from its quaint bridges to its narrow cobblestone streets. Everything is so old world. So picturesque. My art history undergrad-self was giddy at the Uffizi. And of course, there was food– as much as we could stuff our faces with in 72 hours. There was gelato, panini, and pasta . . . and lots of espresso along the way. Some of these shots were taken when Erica and I were wide awake (from jet lag) and ready to go at 6 a.m. The city, which is usually packed with tourists, was empty and quiet. It was perfect. Florence, I’ll be back again!
I am hunched over in the back corner of Peet’s Coffee here in Berkeley, sipping an almond milk cappuccino (whaaaat?) and I am overwhelmed with emotion. Perhaps I am excited about the holiday weekend – a chance to escape with my wife and Grizzly up to the tranquility of the Sierras. Or maybe it’s simply the gin martini I had for lunch. Probably both. Regardless, it’s sure to be a fabulous Fourth of July – full of food, drinks and family.
Speaking of the Fourth, what’s more American than apple pie? Why, berry pie of course!! I haven’t been able to take my eyes off Linda’s dreamy pie picnic all week.
So I went a little bonkers. Perhaps I should have passed on the midnight iced coffee. But given the fact that lately the temperature of my bedroom has me sleeping on the hardwood floor with Grizzly, something had to be done. And then it hit me, like an oversized dodgeball to the face . . . snow cones!! And not just any snow cones, but cocktail snow cones (come on, you know me). My last snow cone was likely consumed at the circus some time in the early ’90s, so I knew I had some work to do. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve given them a chance – a taste here and a slurp there. After all, I am married to a sugarholic. It’s just that they’re just always so sweet – and it’s that fake-syrupy sweet! It’s almost as if there’s some obscure law that states that all snow cones must be doused in rainwbow cough syrup. Not in my house, and certainly not in my bedroom! So I got fresh with it. Fresh strawberries, blackberries, limes, mango, and everyone’s favorite . . . pineapple. And of course they had to be spiked. However, feel free to keep them unleaded if you prefer. Ice, sugar, fruit and booze – what’s not to love? In your face, summer!
A note about ice: if you have a snow cone or shaved-ice machine, use it. There are actually some pretty affordable options out there, and if you plan on making these for a Fourth of July get together, it might be worth it. A good machine will give you a finely shaved ice that is perfect for snow cones. If you don’t use a snow cone machine, you can use a food processor or blender with ice-crushing capabilities to crush your ice as fine as possible.
I’ll be honest, I love the Fourth of July mostly because I allow myself to eat an inappropriate amount of hot dogs. But you can get fancy with that tube of processed meat. No, I’m not talking about making your own hot dogs (I’m not that insane), but making your own hot dog buns is easy– it really makes that dog shine! I’ve made a yeasted cornbread hot dog bun with hunks of grilled corn and jalapenos. It really adds a special flavor and texture to your ordinary American hot dog! Because this is made with cornmeal and corn, use regular hot dogs as the buns won’t be as forgiving on those jumbo dogs.
Start by grilling the corn and jalapenos until the kernels and jalapenos are slightly charred. Remove the corn and deseed the jalapenos and finely dice the corn and jalapenos.
Vietnamese food is something that I crave on a consistent basis. It’s up there with Mexican and Japanese. When I’m sick, I love a piping hot bowl of pho. When I’m hungry, it’s all about bun cha. When I’m hot and tired, spring rolls and a potent cup of Vietnamese iced coffee saves the day. The depths of flavors, temperatures and textures is what makes this food so delicious – and to pair almost every dish with raw greens and herbs makes it so wonderfully unique to the culture. And the best part is, you don’t have to go to Vietnam to have some of the best Vietnamese food. For example, check out À La Mode‘s exploration of restaurants representing regional fare from Northern, Central, and Southern Vietnam in Orange County’s Little Saigon!