As we enjoy the final days of summer, the weather 'person' has promised a series of scorching hot days, almost as if to send off the season with a rousing 'hurrah'.
We're eating light, and the menu has included plenty of main course salads, as well as fruit salads for breakfast or dessert. Last weekend I found a bottle of Angostura bitters tucked away on a shelf at the back of the refrigerator and remembered how delicious it is with fruit.
Named after an old Venezuelan town in Trinidad in the West Indies, Angostura aromatic bitters is a liquid blend of gentian and the bark of a South American tree combined with herbs and spices, including cinnamon and cloves.
Angostura has been used as a flavouring and seasoning for foods and beverages for more than 150 years and is made from a unique formula. It has a rare quality of marrying other flavours in any dish in which it is used, while adding a subtle, bittersweet and almost unidentifiable flavour of its own.
A veritable shelf of spices in one bottle, Angostura is the single ingredient which is able to give a variety of savoury dishes, cocktail drinks and fruit juices, ice creams, fruit salads and puddings an exotic twist.
In addition to adding a special flavour to food, bitters are valued for their tonic and digestive properties. The formula for Angostura was first developed in 1824 by Dr Johann Siegert, a Surgeon-General in the army of Simon Bolivar in an area that was once known as Angostura. Dr Siegert experimented for years, before finding the exact compound for a tonic he felt would improve the wellbeing of his troops, and assist them to combat the effects of the tropical climate.
Few people today know the secret of the formula, but many have discovered its versatility. Incidentally, Angostura has an alcohol/volume of 44.7%. Alcohol is added to hold the ingredients in suspension and stop separation. Used sparingly (only 2-3 dashes in food and drink recipes), the alcohol content per serve is virtually zero.
FRESH FRUIT SALAD WITH HONEY AND BITTERS
1/2 cup good honey
2 teaspoons Angostura aromatic bitters
1kg fresh fruit - watermelon, rockmelon, strawberries, lychees, figs, blueberries
shredded mint to garnish, optional
Prepare the fruit for a fruit salad. Slice the strawberries and make melon balls with the rockmelon and watermelon. Combine in a large, decorative bowl.
Warm the honey with Angostura and drizzle over the fruit. Cover and chill. Serves 6-8.
Tell me dear readers, is it hot in your part of the world now? Or are you heading into spring? And do you enjoy Angostura bitters?
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- Liz Posmyk
NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.