40 days ago I finally got around to working on a recipe that I have been holding on to since Fall 2004. As with the sausages and other cured delicacies, the Vin de Pamplemousse (grapefruit wine) rattles about my head as one of the essential ingredients for the elusive Mid-Summer's party. I will have one sometime (maybe this Summer) but until then I will keep practicing. Lillet, a French aparatif(a fortified wine with an orange essence), reminds me of the summer of 1998. We sat in a tiny walled green oasis, in Williamsburg, perfect in every way except for the stifling heat. We balanced ourselves with this smooth beverage poured over cracked ice with a slice of orange or lemon and we sat and we waited for nothing to happen.
Ah the salad days. In Fall 2004 the New York Times Magazine had an recipe for homemade Lillet, except since Seville Oranges (bitter oranges) are hard to come by in the US, it called for grapefruit. I was hooked, I just had to find the conviction.
Five bottles of white, one bottle of vodka, six grapefruit, lemons, vanilla bean, sugar. To the basement for forty days.
I got some corks and a corking thing at Bev-Art, up in Beverly. Strained the vin into the bottles and set the cork. I'll let them sit for at least another month.
The combination of citrus and vanilla gave off the aroma of bubble gum, and the taste finished with a very sharp grapefruit. We see how it is in the summer. But S could not wait. What I had left over from the bottling I chilled in a pitcher. After polishing off the pitcher (I helped) She declared this would be the drink of summer. Then she started thinking about vin d'orange: Chicago is a cosmopolitan Midwestern town, there had to be bitter oranges around here somewhere....Sounds like a project.