Jon and I were eating lemon ice lollies and walking through the park to the Met to explore the jungle-gym / art installation on the roof when we became aware of a drama going on beside the boating lake.
Children had put down their remote controls. Conversations had been curtailed on benches. Nannies in the café and babies in their strollers fell silent to stare. A man on rollerblades skated past, did a double take, stopped, then skimmed backwards again to survey the scene.
A man was walking his cat.
At least there was a man and there was a cat in a harness, and it’s a fair assumption that they would have been walking had the cat not been lying spread eagled on the tarmac digging in its claws and hanging on grimly as though it knew something we didn’t about the immediate future of gravity.
The man’s arms were slashed and bleeding, evidently from earlier attempts to introduce the cat to the notion of forward motion.
But for now, they were at something of an impasse.
“Why would you try to walk a cat? Surely that’s just asking for trouble” I opinioned.
“You know that cat fetched the lead in its mouth and stood by the front door looking mournful all morning” Jonathan noted.
Cats can be capricious like that.
The man looked thoroughly embarrassed and the gawking crowd, increasing in size by the moment, hardly helped. He tugged carefully at the lead. Nothing. He hissed encouragement. Nothing. Eventually, with infinite gentleness, he gave the creature a little nudge with his foot. It rolled onto its back, tummy in the air, legs akimbo. It stretched with studied laziness in the sunlight then shut its eyes and feigned sleep.
I have rarely seen a man looking so in need of a stiff drink.
On a hot muggy afternoon, when the labors of the day take on as Sisiphean a quality as walking an uncooperative cat round a boating lake, this is the perfect drink.
Frosty cold, with a bitter edge, and a solid kick.
Lemon drop (per glass)1 scoop of lemon sorbet Juice of ½ lemon 1 shot of Cointreau 1 shot of vodka 1-2 tsp of sugar (to taste) Handful of sherbet lemon sweets to garnish
Scoop the sorbet into blender, pour over the lemon juice and the vodka and whizz to combine into a smooth frosty drink. If you like your cocktails a little sweeter add some sugar and blitz again.
For the garnish put the lemon sweets into a zip lock bag and pound into a gritty powder with a rolling pin or a hammer. Tip the rubble onto a plate. Dip the top of a martini glass in water then put it onto the plate, pressing the sweet crumbs onto the rim to help them stick (you could use an egg white instead of water to get a better stick)
Cucumber rounds with lemon crème fraiche and smoked salmon
I admit it, we’re deep into canapé territory now. And though that might seem a little stuck up for a Wednesday, why fight a good thing? We’re talking about fresh tangy mouthfuls of cool cucumber and silky salmon. So they look a little 1980’s cocktail hour dinky. I’m not by any means convinced that that’s a bad thing.
Ingredients (enough for 4 people)½ a hot house cucumber ½ cup of crème fraiche or sour cream 4 slices of smoked salmon each cut into quarters Juice from ½ a lemon Pepper
- Wash the cucumber and cut in to cm disks – thick enough not to bend when you pick them up.
- Mix the crème fraiche with the lemon
- Put a blob of the crème fraiche mixture on the cucumber slice
- Drape the salmon on top
- Season with a grind of black pepper