When I had Bellinis in Harry’s Bar in Venice it cost about $100 (aussie) for a round of four. But we WERE in Harry’s Bar and I guess you pay for the privilege. Take comfort in the fact that they are cheaper to make at home.
I know the health conscious among you will be appalled that I usually need to disguise things that are good for me in elaborate ways. Just like mums grate carrot into pasta sauce to get kids to eat it. I can think of no better way to disguise fruit than in luscious, come hither cocktails, especially in Summer. The bellini is to me the most succulent indicator of seasonal produce. When the heady fragrance of ripe white peaches hits me as I walk through the fruit market, I must immediately head to my local Italian wine merchant and buy some prosecco. Presto, bellinis. Bellissimo.
At Xmas, my darling cousins R and B treated us all with a bottle of imported Italian bellini mix which was very nice and put us all in the holiday spirit. But now that the peaches are here we must make the most of them, yes? Whip up a batch and laze around in the cool shade near the water and mutter things in incomprehensible Italian just to get in the spirit of it. This recipe is adapted from Walter Bolzonella, a barman at the Hotel Cipriani in Venice. Don’t ask me how I got the recipe … ah – La Serenissima ….
½ cup of water
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4-5 large ripe white peaches
1 tsp sugar or more - optional
1-2 raspberries, if needed, to enhance the colour
1 bottle of good Prosecco, preferably Nino Franco (Prosecco is an Italian semi sweet sparkling wine)
Place the water and lemon juice on a non reactive bowl – glass or ceramic.
Peel, stone and slice the peaches and immediately immerse them in the lemon water. This stops them from discolouring. Place the bowl in the fridge and chill for one hour, allowing the peaches to macerate. Take the peaches out of the water and place into a beaker suitable for a stab blender, or in the jar of a blender. Reserve the water. Puree the peaches and add a little of the water – a few tablespoons or more – to bring them to a consistency about as thick as runny cream. Taste the puree. Bellinis are not supposed to be an overly sweet drink, so if the peaches are ripe you won’t need too much sugar. If they are tart, add sugar and blend again. If your peaches are ripe they should have deep pink veins around the stone and this will give the bellini its rosy hue. If they are very pale, add a couple of raspberries and blend again.
Pour the puree into a pitcher and top with the Prosecco and stir, or make them in individual glasses with a little puree topped with Prosecco.