I was sitting outside, wearing an old swimming suit and large sunglasses, lazily bathing in the sun with a notebook and a pen in my hands. My intention was to write, I had a free Sunday afternoon and a few stories and recipes queueing, waiting to be told.
My skin smelled of coconut sunscreen lotion, cicadas were performing their hypnotic melody in the oak trees at the end of the garden, when I fell asleep. It was not one of those deep unconscious sleeps that leave you befuddled, it was more a rejuvenating summer nap.
I could hear the birds chirping, oblivious of our cat patrolling the garden, the wind playing among the oak leaves and the bees buzzing in a nearby rose bush.
My skin was getting warmer and my hair was tickling my bare shoulders. Even with closed eyes, I could feel the light changing when the maritime breeze would push a lone cloud across the sky. We live about an hour far from the Tyrrhenian coast, but when a westerly wind blows you can smell the brackish air and you feel like you’re sitting on the beach.
During this brief nap I welcomed summer in my dreams – with all its rituals, habits, food and rhythms.
Rocked by this gentle breeze, I was perfectly aware of where I was, though not when. It could have been twenty five years ago, when I would bring my books out during our long summer holidays to read about faraway worlds and live new adventures, or it could have been just last year, when I rediscovered the meaning of staycation, realising that I can feel on holidays even in my backyard.
Here we are, at the beginning of a new summer.
Enjoying three months of summer school holidays until I was eighteen left me with the feeling that the good season gives you superpowers: you can, for example, stretch time to live endless adventures within the space of a single day. Your heightened senses turn you into a water diviner, searching for the next sensuous summer pleasure: a bush of crushed dried mint here on the hedgerow, juicy ripe peaches as sweet as honey, the wet soil under a tomato plant. Summer is a feast for your senses.
Rose petal syrup
After the elderflower syrup I made the most romantic rose petal syrup to dilute into a tall glass of cold water or to drizzle over a yoghurt. You do not need much to embrace the good season with a good mood, or to smooth the rough edges of a harsh day: a spoonful of rose syrup works magic, it has the elegance of an ancient world.
Use the most scented organic roses you can put your hands on. My mum loves roses, there are colourful bushes scattered through the garden, but just two pink roses have that inebriating perfume I was searching for. Rumor has it that mum brought here those two roses when she moved almost forty years ago from San Gimignano.
I followed Annalisa’s recipe to make rose syrup.
- 300 g of rose petals
- 1 l of water
- 1 organic lemon
- 1 kg of sugar
Have a walk in the garden, or to the nearby flower shop, and collect the rose petals in a colander. Remember to use only organic rose petals, that have not been chemically treated. Gently rinse the rose petals under cold water to remove any unwanted guests.
Shake off the water and transfer the rose petals in a large bowl.
Cover the rose petals with freshly boiled water, then squeeze in a lemon.
Bruise the rose petals with a wooden spoon to better extract their romantic essence, then cover the bowl with a lid, a plate would do, and let the petals infuse for 24 hours.
The day after, pour the rose water into a pan through a cheesecloth. Squeeze the petals to extract as much water as possible. you’ll be wrapped in a rose scented cloud.
Add the sugar to the rose water and stir to dissolve. Bring it to a gentle boil and simmer on low flame for 15 minutes.
Pour the rose petal syrup into sterilized bottles or jars and store in a dark cool cupboard.
Once you open the bottle or jar, keep it in the fridge.
How to use rose petal syrup
I keep my rose syrup in the fridge, so it is always cold, ready to be poured into a glass and stirred with cold water to make an impromptu drink. It can add a romantic touch even to a sparkling wine or a prosecco, add a few raspberries into the glass for a very fancy cocktail.
Drizzle over a summer fruit salad, a cup of yogurt, a meringue with a dollop of whipped cream. Dilute the syrup with some water and use it to brush a chocolate cake or a birthday cake. Stir a tablespoon into a strawberry jam or raspberry jam before closing the lid. When you need a gentle caress, just open the rose syrup bottle and inhale.
- Valentina and Zaira came out a few weeks ago with two posts with a distinct romantic rose perfume. Have a look at what they made here and here.
- If you think that rose syrup is not romantic enough, you might want to try Diana Henry’s peaches in rose syrup with pistachios and rose petals.
- Here you can find a few more recipes to use your rose syrup.