Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lemonade Quest

I love a tall cold glass of lemonade in the summer. Fresh lemonade, that is. Call me a food snob if you will, but powdered mixes or chemical laden swill need not apply for this job. The cheapest and easiest way to have fresh lemonade of course is to make it yourself. All you have to do is juice some lemons, add some sugar into hot water to make a syrup, and mix together with ice cubes and extra water as needed. Don't wimp out on squeezing the lemons and try to substitute that bottled concentrate available in the produce section of the grocery store. My taste buds detect a Windex-like quality in that stuff, probably due to the preservatives added. Some people can't taste this or aren't bothered by it, but I still proclaim it unacceptable.

Even though fresh lemonade is easy to make, sometimes I just don't feel like doing it. So as a backup plan, I've done some reconnaissance missions to find out where in Middletown a good fresh lemonade can be found. Here's what I know, which I am happy to share with you, dear readers of the Eye.

The Green Room on College Street makes a great glass of lemonade, perfectly balanced between sour and sweet. It reminds me of lemonade I've gotten on the special occasions when I've visited fancy French restaurants.

Thai Gardens makes a potent and concentrated cup of lemonade that is both extremely sweet and quite sour at the same time. I enjoy a few sips but find that I need to add quite a bit of extra water to dilute down it's almost syrupy consistency.

Typhoon makes good lemonade too. It's quite satisfying, a little on the sweet side.

It's been a long time since I've eaten at Pho Mai but I remember a nice fresh lemonade there, or maybe it was limeade. I always thought there was way too much ice in the cup. It stays so cold it's almost too hard to drink, and the ice is so frozen together it gets in the way so only little trickles of juice come out when you tilt the cup. The taste is really great so it's worth it; the ice and coldness can be overcome.

In a real pinch, the bottled “Simply Lemonade” available in the cooler case at BrewBaker's will suffice. It's on the extreme sweet side but at least there aren't any weird ingredients and it really tastes fresh. BrewBaker's also makes their own fresh lemonade, but to my disappointment they don't have any plain lemonade. The only fresh lemonade they sell is ginger lemonade. If you like ginger, this is definitely for you, as they don't skimp out and it's loaded. It's too pungent for my taste.

Last but not least, New England Emporium has a good solid cup of lemonade. It's also on the sweeter side, though they will add less of the sugar syrup if you ask, and they also have a self-serve water jug that you can use to dilute it down and stretch it out if you like. The really fantastic thing at New England Emporium is the seasonal lemonade with extra fruit added. They squeeze the juice out of fresh fruit to make combinations with berries or whatever fruit is fresh. Today at the New England Emporium I had a watermelon lemonade, which I'd never tasted before. It was flavorful and truly refreshing, It tasted like mostly watermelon, which I think was blended, and then just a note of lemony-ness to make it really sing. I highly recommend this.

To wrap this expedition up, I'd like to give a huge thank you to all of the patient and kind wait staff at Middletown restaurants who've refrained from sneering at me when I've asked how the lemonade is made. This reconnaissance mission is far from comprehensive. There are lots of Middletown restaurants I just don't frequent or haven't been to in years, so if any readers out there have any favorite Middletown lemonades that I haven't yet found, please post a comment!

1 comment:

Tree Fanatic said...

I remember seeing something called "Citron pressé" on the menu at the late, lamented Pastis in Hartford. I was surprised to learn that it was merely lemonade -- although a very fine lemonade, made on the spot.

As to additives, I think a sprig of fresh-picked mint does wonders.