I can’t say I’ve ever had a thing for them. I know I haven’t waxed eloquently about the beautiful chartreuse colour or flesh of a grape, pefectly ripe and sweet and delicous. Not once. I don’t recall a moment when I romanticized a bowl of green or red grapes or envisioned myself strolling the market grounds noshing on the little clusters right off the woody vine. Ever.
I can’t tell you why either. It is what it is. They’re inferior to a rash of other fruits, certainly not in the class of mangoes or passion fruit or berries. I usually pass on by them when I shop, and the rare times I do pick up a small bunch, it often sits in the same spot in the fridge. Alone. Untouched.
It’s been this way for years. Eons. And as such I’ve yet to have the urge to make something with them. Aside from the oh-so-typical jam. Meeting with friends and saying, “Look how lovely this grape tart is!” It’s doesn’t sound right, yes? No.
It had me thinking. A contemplative moment when all the sounds around me muted. A brief sprinkle of light came through the window. I heard my breathing soften. Just me and my thoughts. I want a grape moment. A story. A simple shining story to reflect upon years from now.
I want something with the magnificence of grape juice. Growing up I adored grape juice. Adored. That’s not to say I don’t like it now, on the contrary. No other fruit juice compares though. Or lived up to the hype I created in my mind. Grape juice was everything I wanted in a drink. Which is why it surprises me that I’ve seen so litte done with grapes in food through the years.
It’s not that it doesn’t deserve a place amongst the patheons of beautiful fruits. It does. But it needs a spotlight. An opportunity to shine and some exposure. A recipe. One single beautiful little recipe.
And it happened.
We took a drive the other day. It’s common place around here for us to get in the car and stroll. Nowhere to go. Nothing to see. So we get in the car and drive. We choose our path by the view and turn with the flip of a nickel. This way. That way. And we always end up exactly where we wanted to be. Together.
This time we drove down long-forgotten stone roads, passed century homes and barns years removed from their former glory. With each passing town we stumbled on hidden gems and beautiful fieds and pretty contry homes. And then, after following a sign to nowhere, we ended up in the driveway of a farm, market and flower garden.
After picking fresh raspberries under the watchful eye of the blistering sun, we headed inside the charming wooden makeshift store to pay. I grabbed some ripened scented peaches and picked a grape off the bunch. And it changed everything. I had my moment.
I wouldn’t have believed this place if I hadn’t seen it myself. With these eyes. A throwback of sorts to the glorious old farms, pickers working in the fields and men watering the grounds and all the harvested goods. And I wouldn’t have believed that grapes could taste that good.
This cocktail was made in my mind that day. I imagined the scene play out a thousand times sooner though. A sweltering sun, a pinch of shade, two chairs with a small vintage table and a pitcher of boozy goodness. W and I alone in a moment drenched in love. Quenched by this cocktail.
That’s how it played out. Entirely. Minus the soft spot of shade though. We sat at our old wrought iron bistro table and drank this by the fistful. The moment caused my heart to skip. And my pulse to quicken. A segment of time I’ll hold on to forever.
I can’t say I’ve ever had a thing for grapes. I never did. But mixed with the right flavours and it’s genuine gold. Farmer’s gold. And now, after years forgotten, I can say it.
From my kitchen to yours.
Smashed Grape Cocktail
- 12 grapes
- 6 basil leaves
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. simple syrup
- 4 ounces vodka
- 2 cups soda water
- Place 10 grapes in the bottom of a shaker and smash up with a cocktail muddle. Pour contents through a sieve and reserve juice.
- Rinse shaker and place basil in the bottom. Lightly muddle to release oils. Top with simply syrup, grape juice and lemon juice and stir. Add ice and pour vodka over top. Add honey and soda water and shake.
- Cut two grapes in half and place 2 halves in each glass. Pour shaker contents in glasses and serve.
- Serves 2.