It was Hilaryâ€™s idea to go to the urban farm. Sandwiched between a mental hospital and the East river. â€œIf it’s true, we should go and see it.” So we headed off through midtown in the scorching heat of a baking Manhattan morning.
And there it was, partially hidden from view behind building-site barriers. Rows and rows of tomatoes, zucchini, squash, parsley, lemon verbena, basil and edible flowers all stacked in black plastic crates.
In between these ranks of produce we could see the metal mechano-set foundations of the building that would one day, economic climate permitting, go on top. A perfect match for the glittering tower next door.
Then, glass and steel, industry, office chairs, computers, meetings, water-coolers. But for now, sunshine and strawberries and the kind of lunch that segues into happy hour.
These are the salad days.
Strawberry Smash (per glass)
When strawberries are at their Farmersâ€™ Market best, or, better still, growing in the planter on the balcony (!) this is a great cocktail that really takes advantage of their wonderful summery flavor.
Â¼ lime cut into 2 wedges 4 mint leaves 2 strawberries 1 measure strawberry syrup 1 Â½ measures bourbon Soda (optional) Mint and strawberries for garnish Ice Â
- Muddle the lime, mint and strawberries in a shaker
- Add the syrup and bourbon and a handful of ice
- Shake until chilled
- Pour into a glass (with the ice, which should be broken up really small) and top up with soda if desired.
- Garnish with extra mint and strawberries
For the strawberry syrup
This is also good in ice tea, lemonade, added to sparkling water, or gin and tonics …1 cup sugar 1 1/2 cups water 1 pint strawberries Â½ vanilla bean Â
- Put the strawberries into a pan with the water and simmer gently for 10 mins until the water is pink and the berries are a sad gray
- Strain through a sieve into another pan – if you press down on the strawberries you get more flavor but the syrup will be cloudy. Up to you. I go with cloudy
- Cut the Â½ vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds into the strawberry water, dropping in the bean too. Add the sugar and simmer gently until it is dissolved, spooning off any scum that comes to the surface
- Chill until needed