What a glorious spring this has been so far. In many parts of the world much of it could have been mistaken for summer, except that short, cold and rainy wintery interlude a couple of weeks ago.
This time of the year is perfect for evening beach walks, picnics and al fresco dining.
This month I am indulging in an old favourite, first served to us at the now defunct Dove in Byron Bay, many-many years ago on one of our fabulous Byron summer holidays.
White chocolate martini
30ml White chocolate rum*
30ml Absolut or Belvedere vodka
Fresh vanilla bean scrapings (or 3ml good quality vanilla bean paste)
Method: pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice, shake, and strain into a large martini glass. Can be served with a white chocolate Lindt ball on a toothpick.
*I recommend Rare 8 Year Old White Chocolate Rum from the Fiji Rum Co. You can also use a good quality clear white chocolate liquor as an alternative.
While you are enjoying your White chocolate martini, here are a few of my favourite tunes I am currently listening to.
‘WILD (Blue Neighbourhood Part 1/3)’ by Troye Sivan
Troye Sivan is a fascinating young music prodigy from Perth, Western Australia, and a YouTube star with close to 4 million followers and over 190 million views.
You may also know him as a young James Howlett from the 2009 ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ movie. Troye came out publicly on 7 August 2013, on his YouTube channel.
His latest music releases ‘Wild’ and ‘Fools’ are not just great tunes, but the accompanying music videos are modern classics. They are the first two parts of a trilogy of music videos that will accompany his new EP, and tell a story of young gay love under strain from homophobia.
‘FOOLS (Blue Neighbourhood Part 2/3)’ by Troye Sivan
‘Til It Happens To You’ by Lady Gaga
The latest release from Lady Gaga confronts the issue of campus rape. The black-and-white music video pulls no punches, and presents a disturbing montage of sexual assault stories. It is difficult viewing, but it reflects the reality of too many young women.
The song has been recorded for a documentary titled ‘The Hunting Ground,’ which exposes an epidemic of rape and institutional cover-ups on college campuses in the US.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of ‘Til It Happens To You’ will be donated to organisations helping survivors of sexual assault.
‘On A Street Called Easy, In a Cottage Called Joye’ by Gregory White Smith and Steven Naifeh
If you prefer a literary journey with your White chocolate martini, my choice this month is a book by Gregory White Smith and Steven Naifeh. Smith and Naifeh are also the authors of the much-loved, Pulitzer Prize winning grand autobiography of Jackson Pollock: ‘Jackson Pollock: An American Saga.’ That book was later turned into a film starring Ed Harris.
I first came across this book in a bookshop in Atlanta, Georgia, while visiting my grandparents, in Aiken, South Carolina.
‘On A Street Called Easy, In a Cottage Called Joye‘ is the story of what happens when two gay men from New York fall in love with a ramshackle grand southern lady called Joye. What ensues is a hilarious comedy, as the two men move to Aiken, embark on renovating Joye Cottage, and return it to her former glory.
Joye Cottage, once operated by Sarah Joye as a bed and breakfast, became one of the oldest and largest of Aiken’s winter retreats for wealthy northerners. Most of the property dates back to 1897, when legendary William Collins Whitney purchased it and remodeled it extensively. The property was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on 29 September 1980.
When Smith and Naifeh came across the dilapidated cottage listed for $1.7 million in a real estate brochure, which they couldn’t afford of course, they fell in love with Joye almost immediately. Eventually, they purchased the property for $495,000, and there was a reason for that.
What followed was seven years of renovations to restore Joye Cottage and its 60 rooms to its glory days. The book is a joyous account of the trials and tribulations of two gay men moving to the south and renovating one of its grandest properties.
After Smith was diagnosed with a brain tumor, being great supporters of the arts, Smith and Naifeh bequeathed Joye Cottage to the Julliard School in New York, creating Julliard in Aiken, a week-long arts festival held in March of each year, since 2009.
We were worried about what might happen if it fell into less sympathetic hands than ours.
Gregory White Smith quoted in ‘60-room white elephant trumpets again‘ (The New York Times, 6 June 1996)
Sadly, Smith passed away on 10 April 2014, but he lives on in the amazing gift he left to the arts and Aiken, South Carolina.
Just be careful not to spill your cocktail as you laugh out loud reading this marvellous tale!