Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy Blogaversary Event and Finding a Use for a New Herb

When it came time for spring planting this year, I headed to the nursery to buy my usual supply of herb and flower plants for my balcony garden. I was looking for the the stuff I always buy like rosemary and basil. My thyme plant comes back every year, so Ididn't need more than that, but some sage seemed like a nice addition. What I really hoped to get was some cilantro, or possibly some arugula.

Tony's Nursery in Larchmont, my favorite place to shop for plants, is quite large and never lets me down - or at least they haven't in the past. That's why I was shocked when I went there one fine spring day to discover that while they had rosemary, sage, and basil a-plenty there was not a single cilantro plant. I could not imagine what happened to the cilantro. Where was it? Why did Tony's, who has every herb in existence, not have cilantro?

Browsing the herbs looking for a suitable replacement, I stumbled across a plant called apricot hyssop. I had never used hyssop before (unless you count commercial herbs de Provence), but this plant had pretty peachy-pink flowers and smelled really nice. It smelled seductive. I bought it with the belief that I would find something to do with it eventually. Maybe I could make a sachet out of it, or brew it into a tea.

I took it home and planted it in a small pot. This was in May. We are halfway into September and I still haven't used it at all. The plant has grown to massive proportions and is begs to be used for something.

Along comes The Blogiversary Bash hosted by Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy, in honor of her first year of blogging. The event centers around party foods. I thought it might be fun to create a new cocktail, but what kind? I'm such a sucker for big fruity cocktails, but I don't want to look like the Sandra Lee of the blogsphere by just throwing liqueurs into a glass.

Remember the plant?

Last night I went out on the balcony and took a look at the thing. I'm shocked it has even survived since it has completely outgrown the tiny pot I planted it in. I felt a little sorry for it. This plant was doing it's best to grow for me, despite my neglect, and I wasn't giving it any love. I pulled off a leaf and sniffed. It didn't smell as good as I remembered it smelling when I bought it at the nursery (who can blame it for not wanting to smell good when its scent went unappreciated all summer). I plucked off a bit of one of the flowers and sniffed. This was a stronger scent. I put the thing in my mouth and chewed it up a bit.


This flower tasted like candy - a sweet, light floral candy. How could I have spent the summer ignoring this taste? What was I thinking?

I knew what to do next. I would make a syrup out of this stuff and use it in my Blogiversary cocktail.

So what else would go into my new concoction?

I love this peach liqueur. I think it deserves to be in a special cocktail as well.

Since sparkling wine is always appropriate for a celebratory party, I decided some Proseco would be a perfect base for my new drink.

My poor plant was denuded as I stripped most of those flowers off of it to make sure my syrup had plenty of that flavor. I am such a plant abuser. I ignore it all summer and then rape it!

Now I now present my recipe...

Peach-Hyssop Sparkler
About 1/2 cup apricot hyssop flowers
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 cup Peach licquer
1 bottle Proseco or other sparkling wine

Bring water to a boil and pour over hyssop flowers. Leave to infuse until water is cool (30 minutes or so).

Strain the liquid and add sugar and bring to a boil. Allow sugar to dissolve and liquid to cook down a bit.

Put 1 oz. of the syrup and 2 oz. of the peach liquor in a glass. Fill the glass the rest of the way with Proseco. Stir gently and serve garnished with a peach slice or a sprig of hyssop as I did here.


noble pig said...

I love this drink, how cool is that! Thanks for the inspiration.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

This looks fabulous, Rachel! Thanks so much for sending it over.

Oh, and BTW, no one could ever mistake you for Sandra Lee! ;)

Bellini Valli said...

I plaqnted a few herbs on my balcony this year I will branch out and plant mofre of what I use...problem is there is very little sun until 4. It keeps my apartment lovely and cool during the hot summer months but not good for my precious herbs and flowers who feel neglected:D See you at the party!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I'll be the one sipping the cocktail with hyssop:D

Dee said...

I've never heard of an apricot hyssop, but somewhere in the murky depths of my mind I recall hyssop. Uhm, that's pretty much it, i'm afraid.

The sparkler sounds great with the Prosecco!

Lo said...

Oh, wow. This looks wonderful. We've had great fun with herbal drinks this summer... looks like this is another winner!

Maria said...

Great addition to the party!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Thanks all for the encouragement.

Lo - Yes, you are the herb queen!

Val - I feel your pain. My last apartment was a basement of a private home. I had a very large patio right outside, but it was quite shady, so I could never grow anything edible on it. My landlady did let me pick her abundant basil that grew in the yard at least (and use the swimming pool, which really made up for not having herbs).

Clumbsy Cookie said...

I also had some herbs on my balcony and they all dried out :( What a great drink you've came up with!

joanne at frutto della passione said...

What a great idea! You've inspired me to research this herb and see if I can find it in my part of the world.

Sue said...

What a fantastic idea for your hyssop. That drink looks soooooooo yummy.

I also abuse plants. My parsley (sorry, it's not as exotic as yours) was pathetic most of the summer. Then I completely ignored it and it came back beautifully. I guess herbs have a will to live that even a terrible gardener can't kill. (My tomatoes are another story.)