Just a few days ago was my birthday. In the middle of July. Anyone who knows me really well, knows how much I despise heat. High temperatures combined with high levels of humidity make me extremely lethargic and anti-social. I just want to be inside, in the dark, near an air conditioner blasting ice cold air onto my body. I have no desire to cook. No desire to bake. No inspiration to be creative. I just don’t want to deal. I want to go to sleep and wake up in September. So, by some cruel joke by Mother Nature, I was born in the middle of July. I do not want to celebrate. It’s rare that my birthday falls on a day that is 75 and dry. It’s happened. I’m sure, but I don’t remember them. I remember how it’s always hot. I remember that I only want to go to a restaurant where the air conditioning is blasting. Where you need to bring a sweater with you. Where it’s so cold that I will happily enjoy a glass of red wine.
I am easily annoyed by people who say they love the heat. They don’t. Not when it is 90+ degrees and humid out. To just walk outside and feel suffocated by oppressive air that is thick to walk through as the sun beats down on you and you immediately start to sweat before taking your first step. That is not fun. It is not comfortable. And it smells!
Since the purpose of this site is not about bitching about what I hate, but celebrating food and drink, then I will stop now before I get into a real tirade against the heat. Instead, I’m going to talk about one of the few benefits of hot weather: sangria.
I wish I could recall the first time I had sangria, but I can’t. I do know that I have had all sorts. My friend Stacey and I would often take lunch breaks and walk down a few blocks in Providence to a place called Tini. They had a white sangria that they would make right in the glass. It wasn’t something that steeped for days. It was incredibly refreshing. I remember my culinary school’s alumni barbecue offering two kinds of sangria, red and white and that I decided it would be best to just mix the two together. I remember a Christmas party where a jug of wine was dumped into a bucket and in went oranges, limes, lemons and grenadine and every one just ladled it into their red Solo cups. I also remember going to an outdoor bar with my friend Kate and we ordered the sangria and after one sip quickly sent back the Robitussin tasting concoction. Needless to say, I’ve sampled a lot of sangria. It’s a great way to enjoy wine in the summer. There’s something a bit more “party” about it than regular wine. Maybe the fact that you drink it out of a cup and not a wine glass. Maybe it feels a bit more casual. I don’t really know why and I honestly don’t care to delve into the psychology of it all. All I know is that sangria is delicious and refreshing and perfect for the heat.
And when I see on the weather report that my mortal enemy, humidity, will be staying for the week with his best friends sunshine and heat, I know it’s time to make a pitcher of sangria. A pitcher that will await for my arrival home from work each day. A welcoming sight. Take off my shoes, pour a glassful and sink into the couch next to the air conditioner and let the stress from the day just drift away as I cool down from my 7 minute walk from the train stop to my ice cold abode (although, in all honesty, it’s not as ice cold as I would like it to be, but I have air conditioning so I can’t really complain all that much).
But here’s the thing with sangria, as easy as it is to make and as delicious and refreshing as it is, there’s a bit of waste. All that fruit you put in, sure, a little bit might pour into your glass and you’ll proclaim, how it’s healthy since it’s fruit and you have a nibble. But more often than not, once all the delicious wine is going, the marinated and soggy look fruit is dumped down the garbage. And that is a shame because all that fruit is gold.
And so, instead of just a recipe for some White Sangria, there’s also a recipe for what to do with all that fruit that is leftover. Turning a byproduct into an actual product, is what it means to work in a restaurant. You want to waste as little food as possible. Save every scrap, every broken cookie, all the vegetable peels, all of it has a second life waiting to happen. All those leftovers can be turned into an even more inventive dish. There are moments when you’re left a whole bunch of berries after Fathers’ Day brunch that need to be used and you end up with the right inspiration to make your new summer dessert. It happens. It works. And sometimes it fails. Sometimes your ideas and hopes to turn you leftover terrine into some fantastic mousse just fails so miserably that only the staff are forced to eat the leftovers. But that’s life. And you just need to try.
If this were late summer, I might have tried turning the berries into some sauce and braised some meat in it, because who doesn’t like meat that’s been slow braised for 3 hours? Instead, I went the cold route, because, well, heat sucks balls. And that’s how sangria sorbet came to be. A desire to not waste. A desire to find another way for me to consume sugar. A way to eat booze. Just another way to keep cold on a disgustingly hot day.
One last thing I should mention is this. You can make this sorbet with any kind of wine. Red wine, rose, white wine, a box, a jug…it doesn’t matter. All you need, in the end is 2 cups for fruit puree. You can also add wine in to the mix, but the more wine you add, the less likely the sorbet will freeze. But if you want more of a slushy, substitute all the water with wine.