The weather, having taken a turn for the better here in NYC, has pushed us outside onto the balcony, where we sit wrapped up in sweaters, and watch our fledgling plants as their new leaves flutter in the breeze.
Are they damp enough? Too damp? Warm enough? In the shade too much? Do they need feeding? Should we play them Mozart to stimulate their growth and make them happy? My husband and I fuss anxiously and watch the setting sun reflecting off the buildings.
Then we eat garlic bread and green salad for dinner and continue our progress through the limoncello that I couldnâ€™t resist buying due to the fact that it comes in a glass bottle shaped like a giant lemon.
I clearly remember where I was when I drank my first limoncello.
It wasnâ€™t a Venetian piazza at sunset on a baking summerâ€™s day, or sitting on a rug in a Tuscan spring orchard waiting for the wicker picnic hamper to open, or lying on the deck of a yacht as Cannes slipped into view around the peninsular. It was in a slightly grotty pizza restaurant with plastic tablecloths on the Cowley Road in Oxford.
It was back when I was a student. Back in the early days of Atkins fever, before we all gave up on the idea that fried eggs and cheese made for a sensible diet. I was playing with the concept â€“ no carbs all week, but, I reasoned, I could relax at the weekends, and dates Would Not Count. Thus it was that Jon and I cycled off for our date with pepperoni, filled with anticipation.
My downfall was the garlic bread. It was my first carbohydrate in a week.
My pulse was racing, then my eyelids grew heavy. â€œHold my headâ€ I told Jon. Slightly puzzled, yet ever willing, he did. And then I was asleep.
The pizza arrived.
Jon gently laid my head on the table,Â cushionedÂ by a couple of folded up napkins, and there I lay, snoring quietly, while he ate his pizza. Then he ate my pizza. Then he waitied to see what would happen next.
What happened next is I woke up with a start. Everybody in the restaurant clapped. The manager brought us both glasses of limoncello.
And since then, limoncello has been my number 1 holiday import, the fresh taste of spring.
- Pour 1 shot of limoncello into a champagne flute. Top up with chilled prosecco and garnish with a fresh mint leaf.
Garlic Bread1 loaf of ciabatta 4 tbsp butter (room temperature) 5 cloves of garlic Â¼ cup parsley (itâ€™s currently being sold in vast bunches fresh from the Union Square Farmerâ€™s market â€“ new seasonâ€™s organic parsley tastes fabulous. ) Salt and pepper
- Pre heat the oven to 350 F
- Grate the garlic into the butter. Add the finely chopped parsley and mix to combine
- Season well
- Slice the ciabatta loaf lengthways, then spread the butter generously all over
- Wrap in foil and bake for 8 â€“ 10 mins (10 should take it to crispy) Slice crossways and serve