Drink

Strawberry Water

There is a sudden influx of strawberries at the markets lately, have you noticed?  I bought some just yesterday and as I cut a few up to munch on this afternoon, the aroma of the beautiful berries wafting up to my nose, I suddenly remembered one of the best strawberry experiences I’ve had, ever: strawberry water.

This recipe is from none other than my dad, who long ago whipped up this simple, delicate drink one hot summer day when I was a young child. I recall that very day, when there happened to be no soda, juice or other interesting soft drinks around the house. My brother and I clamored for something sweet, you know — that little something you crave on a sweltering day. Miraculously, my dad proceeded to make a wonderful bowl of sweet water infused with strawberries.

He sliced a few strawberries — you don’t even need that many — and added them to a big glass bowl filled with water, ice, and plenty of sugar. My brother and I watched with a fair amount of skepticism. Just water and those few slices of strawberries? What’s that gonna do? Still, we watched. Stir, stir, stir is all he did. Slowly, the sugar dissolved and the juice from the sliced strawberries mingled with the water, coloring it an oh-so-pale pink. He stirred some more, gave it to us in a cup and ALAS — how divine it was! I decided to try it for myself and here it is.

Mind you, this is not a strawberry drink; it truly is a flavored water. So if you’re imagining something robust, then this recipe is not for you. The strawberry flavor is very soft, which I think makes it all the more appealing.

All you need is a bowl of water, about five sliced strawberries, and sugar. Stir together until the water turns pink. I found myself smashing the strawberries with a ladle to coax the juices a bit. Measure your sugar to taste. You’ll likely need to put a fair amount of sugar, as that’s what makes this so tasty. Pour over ice and enjoy! Ideal for warm days, sitting out in the sun.

Monster bloody mary

Take a look at this gigantic bloody mary! Nevermind that it’s in a Guinness glass — isn’t it gorge? It is the signature brunch-time drink at Small Bar in University Heights. Yes, that is shrimp you see skewered on a stick along with olives, a pearl onion, a gherkin and pepperoncini, among other things. Just a lone celery stalk wasn’t going to do it for this guy. A fellow bloody mary drinker saw the bartender adding finishing touches to the robust drink and said, “it looks like my backyard!” Amen to that.

Happy birthday to Vince, who organized the splendid brunch there. Cheers!

San Diego Brewery Tour

If you enjoy beer, there is a great service that lets you take advantage of visiting a number of San Diego’s breweries without having to sacrifice someone as the designated driver. The Brewery Tours of San Diego is one such service that shuttles groups to and from various beer makers in San Diego county for a day of fantastic ale imbibing, the most popular destination being Stone Brewery Co. in Escondido. My favorite was the Lost Abbey brewery in San Marcos, but maybe that’s because it was the first one we went to. It is housed in what looks like a boring, dry office complex, making it bizarrely more appealing as it does not look like beer is brewed and stored there at all. Kind of like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, my friend mentioned when we pulled into the parking lot.

barrels

The Lost Abbey specializes in beers made in the way of Belgian monks. The owners of the Lost Abbey are also involved in brewing the fine ales served at Pizza Port, San Diego north shore’s signature brewing company that has meshed with the Lost Abbey’s beers and branding. Beers varietals are extensive and beyond the fragrant Belgian types, from chocolatey stouts (I like) to hoppy ales (dislike) and nutty lagers (like).

Then we moved onward to Stone Brewing Co., which was also interesting, but it did not have the same occult beer warehouse culture that made the Lost Abbey so delightful. At Stone, we pretty much kicked back at the brewery’s outdoor patio bistro and had a few samplers:

ale

Then we ordered a few sausages to round it off. I believe this appetizer is called “Artisan Sausage Times 4.”

sausages

The only thing I wished for was a chance to visit Stone’s actual brewing sites to learn about the process of making their ales, as they do for the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam or the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. Overall though, I was thoroughly surprised by San Diego’s microbreweries! I highly recommend going to one.