This is the first summer in Los Angeles that I feel like a true Californian.
Ironically, I am writing this first post of the "new year" from my parents' home in Tampa, Florida. I am in town for the wedding of a very special lady: my best friend since kindergarten and a wonderful girl, Megs (more on that later). This will be the third summer I spend as a resident of the West Coast, and I finally feel like I've got it down. I know all the hot spots for the summer I won't want to miss. I know when the weather will be just right for beaching it with a sweater and beaching it with a bikini. Sadly, there are only about 2 weekends each summer when it is bearable for me to actually swim at the beach; otherwise, it is too cold!
Zach and I are always sure to hit up at least one of the cemetery screenings of old movies that are projected onto a huge screen at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (you bring a picnic dinner and some vino and sit in a cleared field in the middle of the cemetery surrounded by mausoleums and graves.
One such screening last year:
We will surely take a day to drive over to the Pala Casino Resort (about 2 hours Southeast) to sit by the resort-style pool, gamble, spend our earnings at the huge buffet and then drive home (an actual room there costs about $400/night on the weekends).
There will be plenty of outdoor dining with our new companion, Stanley. We will also likely take a mini-vacation to someplace new as we usually do each summer...just for a weekend, of course.
Just because you are not out of school for summer as a "grown up" does not mean the summer feels the same as every other part of the year. It still feels special, and it should be celebrated!
I have chosen to celebrate with a favorite summer beverage back where I came from: sweet tea. The best sweet tea in Florida can be found at one of three establishments: Sonny's BBQ, Publix Grocery Store or Chic-fil-a (and yes, there are facebook groups supporting all three of these fine beverage variations). My recipe is for southern sweet tea with a California twist since I am including the mountain blossom honey we bought on our trip to Jullian, California earlier this year. It is just the thing to give this Florida classic tea a dash of refreshing California cool (although I am sure any kind of honey, plain or flavored will work just fine).
Southern (California) Sweet Tea
8 cups water
8 black tea bags (you could also use green tea bags if you want to be super-California)
1 1/2 C white granulated sugar
2 tbsp honey (regular or flavored)
Lots of ice
In a huge pot, bring the 8 cups of water to a boil (barely)
Remove water from heat, and add the tea bags.
Allow tea bags to sit for about 10 minutes, stir and then remove the tea bags from the pot.
Stir in the sugar and then the honey. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Transfer the tea from the pot into a pitcher (or two), filling the pitchers up just over halfway.
Add ice to the pitcher(s) until it is full. The ice will dissolve right away. Taste the tea to see if it is sweetened to your liking.
You can add more ice to make it less sweet, but keep in mind that you will serve the tea with ice as well so it should still be slightly sweeter than what you will want the finished product to be.
Put the pitcher(s) in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
Fill a tall glass (or best case scenario a huge mason jar) about 3/4th of the way with ice, and pour the tea over the ice.