It is time to toast to a brighter tomorrow. These past few months have been an extremely challenging time, to say the least. The overwhelming uncertainty that reigned supreme, and in many ways still does, is indeed brutal. The pandemic pause on life that we endured gave us time to reflect on much. The injustices we witnessed, and continue to witness, asks us to look within, and without, of ourselves. We have been given the opportunity to learn about how we act/react to events both out of, and within, our control.
I can feel the eternal optimist hiding deep inside me from my early years is dying to crawl out of the hole it has been living in. In no way am I diminishing the events that have taken place. But I still firmly believe in best in people. I foresee this summer as one of toasting; to life, to death, to freedom, to justice. Glass half full? Well my glass is rarely empty, if I’m going to be honest. This summer I challenge you to make it a point to raise a glass and cheers to your friends, family, neighbor, and stranger. We are all in this together.
Not sure of what to choose? You are in luck. Read on my friends.
Beers – Post yard work delights
Menabrea Upon moving to Rome in 2017, I knew I would be exposed to more wines than ever. Little did I know I would learn about beer as well! Menabrea became my go to beer while living in Rome. On those hot, hot days walking across the river back to the American Academy I would often stop at this little hole in the wall pizza shop that you would miss if you blinked. I would order a slice or two by signaling the width of the slice with my hands before the sweet young kid behind the counter would cut it with his pizza scissors. Taking my slice(s) outside to sit on the wobbly bench, I drank down this cold refreshing birra while taking in the sites and sounds of Trastevere. Toast to memories that move us!
Birra Ichnusa Before leaving Italy to move back to Boston, my dear friend Christine came to visit. We had nothing planned, not unlike us at all, so we opened a map and looked for beach areas! I had been to Sicily, but I had not been to that other island; Sardegna. Flights booked, off we went to explore. Many a day we sat on the beach under the sizzling sun finding refreshment in a bottle, or two of Birra Ichnusa. When I can find it in the US, it brings me back to this impromptu trip that I will forever be grateful for. Not to mention it is a delicious beer that is light, but bold. Toast to new experiences!
Cocktails – At home Aperitivo if you please
Spritz Cliche, cliche, cliche. I can’t help it. The color, the bubbles, and yes the taste. The Spritz is so trendy, and so popular, and I hate that I am “THAT” person who promotes the trendy and the popular. But I really can’t help it. It is a finicky drink to make though as the proportions of the bubbles and Aperol must be just right. Furthermore, I firmly believe the Spritz must be poured into appropriate glassware for drinking; a bulbous, short stemmed glass is necessary. Splurge on a vessel like this. You deserve it. And so too does the Spritz. Toast to welcoming cliches!
Campari and soda A nod to Aperol’s next of kin, or distant cousin, or brother, whatever the relationship is, I wanted to include Campari. When your taste buds are looking for more of a challenge, more of an interesting journey, please take a rocks glass, fill it high with ice, add Campari, top with soda water and garnish with a lemon peel. It will awaken your palate. If you are feeling really fancy, put a sprig of thyme in it. The brightness of the lemon peel, the herbaceousness of the thyme, and fortitude of the Campari truly play well together. Toast to unity of flavors!
Vino – With food, or without
Lambrusco If you do not know of Lambrusco, I implore you to do yourself a solid and buy a bottle of GOOD Lambrusco. This beautiful wine developed a poor reputation in the United States as it was represented by extremely sweet, poorly nurtured, industrial bottles that have mislead the wine drinker for many years now. It is time to put this to an end. Please. Served chilled, the pure bliss this wine brings on a hot day is unequivocal. This past May on our #whatcooking online interactive Wine and Cheese Class, Gina and Eleonora introduced this vino with cheese, and much to the surprise of their classes, a new favorite wine was found. Check out the Lambruscos by Denny Bini. Well, first read this interview with him. Then buy his wines. Toast to trying something new!
Verdicchio Hello fresh cut grass, crisp mountain air, and subtle hints of apple. Refreshing beyond refreshing. I love the color of this wine as it reminds me of that beautiful greenish-blue transparent sea glass that I was beyond excited to find as a child. Or yesterday, really. It is clean on the nose and taste buds. Not too dry that you need food, but would also pair well with a dish. This wine was featured in our June #whatcooking online interactive Wine and Cheese Class. You may think I am pushing you to take one of these classes, well you should, but I’m not. However again, many a classmate now have a new white wine in their refrigerator perfect for the 90+ degree days we are facing. Toast to our well being!
Dessert – Never forget the after dinner in a glass
Vecchio Amaro del Capo “Absolutely divine,” said in my most posh voice, is how I would describe this amaro. Before living in Italy, I had little to no knowledge of amaro. Now I have little to little knowledge. But it is better than no knowledge as it has encouraged me to seek out new flavors of this beautiful digestivo. The world of amaros is endless! But my base, my rock, my influencer is, and will always be, Vecchio Amaro del Capo. Its silky style had me at first sip. Toast to unknown possibilities!
Affogato Summertime demands ice cream, or gelato if you will. If this is what summer wants, this is what summer will get. Cold vanilla ice cream dances gracefully with the sultry heat that the caffè espresso brings when poured over these scoops of delight. There are no rules here. Not a fan of vanilla, substitute your preferred flavor. Many flavors of liquors will bring this post dinner drink to new dimensions. Have fun with it. Toast to being cool!
Life is a work in progress. We are all works in progress. However when we overwork ourselves, we lose ourselves and that is not fair. Not fair to ourselves, to our loved ones, to humanity. Summer is a time for il dolce far niente. Enjoy the sweetness that only doing nothing can bring. And toast. We all deserve it. Now is the time to toast to a brighter tomorrow.