versatile mint

mint sprigs are something i’m always glad to have. if you have some in your kitchen garden, they sure will come in handy when you add the finishing touch to drinks and desserts you prepare. like the fresh blueberries i had (they were also in the food parcel i posted last week), bright green mint leaves made it look gorgeous. as i froze some of them, i can enjoy a bowl of ice cream with frozen blueberries any time, adding a mint sprig of course. indeed, mint is very one of versatile herbs. as you know, i love using mint not only for garnishing but for cooking as well. naturally, mint is essential for me to grow amid my herbie babies.

on a hot afternoon especially in hot summer months, having hot mint tea works for me to chill out, really. i learned how to make proper mint tea when i travelled around morocco. in london, i could easily get a bunch of fresh mint and a small packet of gunpowder tea from ethnic north african grocers in kilburn high road. besides, baklavas were sold there. i’m now living in a suburb of osaka, you know. i make kind of “fusion” mint tea substituting japanese green tea for chinese gunpowder tea. what would i have instead of baklavas? i’d have some traditional sweets, 落雁 rakugan (made from beans and sugar) for example. japanese sweets surprisingly go with mint tea.

with summer winding down, people can’t help but get sentimental, can they. i am missing that short (and often cool) english summer right now… i just imagine myself sitting in a pub near hampstead heath sipping a glass of pimm's as the sun sets. in reality, i fancy a cocktail i can make myself – mojito? why not? -- so i stand up to fix. i think i have all the ingredients at home, by the way. as my local super market does not always have limes, I’ve got a small bottle of squeezed lime juice imported from turkey; i have enough fresh mint sprigs, while i now grudge even a drop of my havana club that i brought from cuba. accordingly, i’ve recently bought white rum from a local shop.

lemon is refreshing; has no season that i have fresh lemon juice all the year around. still, if fresh mint is added, it gets fresher. so i make minty citron pressé in summer. meanwhile, like other drinks i’ve named as above, citron pressé has a story to make me smile, too. years back, i had the most elegant one in the bar of hotel le bristol paris. the taste was the same, however. i was there to interview phebe philo, the creative director of chloé at the time. she suggested meeting there since the hotel was just a stone’s throw from her atelier. in fact, it’d been cancelled at the last minute once before and my client (a magazine) had gone panic. for me, it was so lucky to visit paris from london twice within a month.

pic 1
in the herb garden of my local park, mints are in bloom. what lovely flowers!
pic 2
plum little blueberries… picked, packed and delivered to me from 静岡 shizuoka. so fresh.
Pic 3
fusion mint tea with 落雁 rakugan from 小布施 obuse for summer afternoon tea.
pic 4
for mojito: white rum, lime juice, soda, a few sprigs of fresh mint, sugar and ice cubes.
pic 5
voilà. mini mojito for two. click here for recipe and i bet you’ll enjoy this cuban experience.
pic 6
my own citron pressé avec les rameaux de menthe served hot or iced. but i prefer brown sugar.

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