This summer feels like it will be a scorcher as it is only mid-June. I like to entertain at my home and I prefer to hosts things in the late afternoon or early evening as the sun shifts to another phase; lifting the oppressive heat so common at this time of year here in Haïti. This weekend, I planned a late lunch thinking that it might be cooler after 3 pm, but I was mistaken. I actually had to move my entire al fresco set up putting my dining table under the trees. This turned out to be the perfect spot in the garden as there was a light breeze and the green canopy above gave refuge from the afternoon rays.
When entertaining, I like to have a theme with my food and beverages. This time I chose a meal which would be tasty and not too heavy given the temperature and time of day. I wanted my menu to be tropical and summery with fresh bright flavors and citrus notes. I made a drink that was cool, tasty and fresh to go with my ‘Caribbean meets Mediterranean‘ style theme. Sangria was the perfect libation to accompany the meal. The fresh orange and lemon slices along with the cubes of apple enhanced the red wine and brandy making it a delicious summer punch. Served in large glasses with lots of ice, this is the quintessential summer cooler.
Many people are not sure what type of wine to use for Sangria. My suggestion would be to buy a wine you enjoy first and foremost. Often people think that cheap wine is best for Sangria as you will be adding lots of other flavors. I think it best to use a wine you would normally consume. I personally prefer red wine to white, hence my choosing a red sangria versus a white. I like a Pinot noir or a Chilean Malbec which is not too dry with some floral, fruity undertones for this cocktail.
My menu included some Haitian favorites such as akra or malanga fritters, fried fish nuggets and pressed fried green plantains. To add a summery fresh feel, I made a Mediterranean style salad with Roma tomatoes, green sweet peppers, radishes, cucumbers, purple onions, artichoke hearts and green olives. A simple lemon vinaigrette of olive oil, fresh mint, parsley and oregano from my garden dressed the salad.
A platter of akra, fried fish and green plantains.
I love hummus and its versatility, and this too was part of my lunch. Served with a basket of warm pita to scoop up the tahini laced spread. It was flavored with cumin, garlic, fresh herbs and lots of lemon .
For dessert, I served little coconut tartlettes and mango sorbet.
Good food, great company and cool drinks all make for great memories and summertime fun.
Makes 6 servings.
1 bottle red wine 750 ml like a Pinot noir or Malbec
1/2 cup brandy
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup orange juice, or more if you prefer
2 oranges, sliced in half with rind and then cut into slices. Remove seeds.
1 apple slice with skin and then cut into small dice
1 lemon, sliced with rind and cut into small dice. Remove seeds.
Lots of ice
Prepare fruit slices and add to a large pitcher.
Add brown sugar and brandy and muddle together with a muddler or a heavy wooden spoon pressing on the fruit to extract some of the juice.
Add the orange juice and pour the bottle of red wine into the fruit mixture.
Stir vigorously to incorporate all of the flavors. Allow to chill for about an hour. Serve over lots of ice.
My measurements are guidelines. You can increase or reduce the sugar or brandy as you prefer. You may also add more orange juice for a fruitier drink. Just feel comfortable to play around with the measurements. Sangria should be consumed within 48 hours.
Here’s to creating great Summer memories!