Summer Dreams Wo r d s : A l a n C o x o n I just love summer if not only for the weather, but for all the delicious soft fruits that become available. Another of my summer favourites has to be raspberries, interestingly, a distant relative of the peach and almond and for that matter the raspberry isn’t botanically a berry at all as it is in fact a “droplet” For the first time in 4 years my little cherry tree is actually bearing fruit!, however every time I look at it standing all alone in its pot, it`s pitiful sample green specimens dangling from thin stalks, I can’t help but think about my travels last year that had me wading through some 300 square kilometres of cherry orchards in the Jerte Valley of Extremadura, an area that boasts ton on ton of bright glistening bulbous sweet and juicy fruits, warm from the 30 dgrs heat, just dangling and tantalising you at every turn. The cherry is said to have originated in Western Asia and brought to Europe by the Roman general Lucullus, today the Jerte Valley now employs over 15,000 people to hand pick their fruity jewels. Continuing the theme of red fruits, then we have to mention a firm favourite and one which is synonymous with the Wimbledon tennis that is currently being staged (and no I don`t mean Cliff Richard), but of course the Strawberry, where last year 28,000 kg English strawberries equating to 112,000 punnets were sold during this sporting event all splashed with 7,000 litres of cream and a staggering 25,000 bottles of champagne used to help wash them down!. Strawberries historically were often used as a beauty treatment and a remedy for freckles and slight sun burn, the affected area of flesh would be rubbed with the fruit to whiten the complexion. Strawberries were also historically www.internationallifestylemagazine.com used as an aid to teeth whitening, the idea being that the fruit was held on the offending stained denture to clean it!, and as I can almost hear every dentist across the land scream with horror at the very thought as the acids removes not only the stain but also most of your protective enamel in the process!. Recently I had a play with macerating a few strawberries in a splash of “Heavy Water” Vodka, a new vodka brand on the market, it is clean and smooth and a wonderful with strawberries and a rather naughty treat on a warm sunny afternoon! Another of my summer favourites has to be raspberries, interestingly, a distant relative of the peach and almond and for that matter the raspberry isn’t botanically a berry at all as it is in fact a “droplet” , and whilst the fruit can grow anywhere from the Himalayas to Alaska it is Scotland that produce the bulk of the British crop. My late grandmother, who had numerous bushes, used to eat as many of them fresh as possible with a little clotted cream, as a child one of my jobs was to pick the fruits in readiness for tea, every so often she add them to a summer pudding and any less than perfect fruits were steeped and turned into raspberry vinegar and used during the winter months, just like her grandson is doing today!. On that note, I leave you to enjoy the flavours of summer and my Drunken Summer dessert!