I have an overabundance of basil on my porch garden already - and it's barely summer. That's okay, because I LOVE BASIL. But I have to think of more things to make with it than just regular ol' pesto and Caprese salads/sandwiches. A few years ago, I concocted an Apricot Basil Whiskey Smash, and as I remember, it was dee-licious. So I trust my instincts to make a thoughtful attempt at "inventing" something new with this culinary herb.
In addition to sweet and purple basil, I have fennel, mint, chamomile, lemon verbena, and rosemary growing in the porch garden - all chosen because I love the taste of each, and because they contain properties that aid in digestion. Each of these herbs are also ideally suited for infusing in water, and I'm always trying to up my water game and get more H20 in my system to stay hydrated, so why not try a basil-infused water?
I have already been experimenting with infusions simply by adding bitters to my water - I like Urban Moonshine citrus and chamomile digestive bitters (I get mine at Ellwood Thompson). BONUS: These bitters actually aren't all that bitter-tasting. Also among the various shrubs, bitters, and syrups I have in my fridge was a bottle of Bittermens Celery Shrub (which I initially thought was bitters, but is not). And not to "muddle" the thought processes up here too much, I recently had one of Cava's Basil Limeades, which I thought was super-tasty and refreshing, and at some point I made a mental note to try to recreate that at home.
So with the gobs of basil in my garden area, a taste for lime, some celery shrub, and a few other ingredients (like lemon verbena to add to the citrus flavor), I have created this recipe for Basil Celery Limeade Soda. . . or Basil-Celery-Lime Herbal Tonic. . . Or Basil-Mint-Celery-Lime Agua Fresca. I just don't know what to call it - but I do know that I'll be recreating this cooling, healing drink more than once this summer.
Basil Limeade Herbal Tonic
Handful of lemon verbena
Handful of basil
Handful of mint
1 qt. or more of carbonated water of choice
1/4 cup squeezed lime
4-5 droppers of celery shrub or bitters
. . . add a splash of Prosecco if you're feeling it.
Add all the ingredients together and let cold-steep overnight, then sip leisurely.
What do you do when you only have 15 hours in Beaufort, S.C. (with half of that time asleep)? You just let the day take you where it takes you. . .
Driving in to Beaufort, I was surprised by all of the new commercial development that had sprung up since the last time I was there - so many fast-casual joints now. But keep driving through the you-ve-seen-it-all-before sprawl and you'll get to the unique historic charm and coastal antebellum homes downtown.
Beaufort is the second oldest city in South Carolina (Charleston is first), and is the very definition of lowcountry. The city is surrounded by rivers, swamps and marshes that are made for waterfront living and breezy porch views, mint julep or sweet tea in hand.
During my brief visit on my way up from Savannah to Wilmington, I spent the morning hours on foot, walking around downtown, and fantasizing about living in any of these gorgeous old homes - and taking mental notes of the gardens and "curb appeal" to bring back to Richmond.
If only Palmetto trees could grow in Richmond, life would be perfect. But they don't, so to get that lowcountry-coastal look in RVA, here are my suggestions:
There is obviously plenty more to do in Beaufort than home-touring, all of which you can find here. I didn't get a chance to check out the beaches - I wanted to visit Hunting Island State Park because I keep reading that it's the most popular state park in South Carolina. Must have something going for it if that's so, right? Next time.
If you missed my last two blog posts on my N.C.-S.C.-Ga. road-trip, you can find them here: Charleston + Savannah. Next up: Wilmington.
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