As a general rule, Graeme and I try not to eat out just for the sake of eating out. Lately, though, it has been so damn hot in this city of weather extremes, that on some days it has been difficult to muster up the energy to cook anything at all. This past Sunday evening, for example, we found ourselves sweaty and exhausted and so we decided to give ourselves a break and seek out food prepared by other people. We wandered down to Sainte Catherine street, which, in our neighbourhood–alternately titled Centre-Sud or the Gay Village–is wonderfully pedestrianized for the entire summer. As such, practically every restaurant on the strip has a terrasse spilling out onto the street, and it seemed like an ideal place for some muggy summer dining.
The village is not known for its restaurants, although there are so many around these parts that I often feel like it is overlooked as a food neighbourhood because there are definitely some gems hiding amongst various chains. On Sunday, we stumbled onto the terrasse of Lallouz, a new-ish addition to the neighbourhood, and a really well-run, charming, yet impressively inexpensive Middle Eastern eatery. We cannot recommend it enough. We feasted on a variety of little salads to start, and then enjoyed really well-prepared grilled beef, chicken and lamb kebabs on warm lafa bread. It was a perfect, not too heavy meal for such a hot night. And what really sealed the deal for me was that, included in their $12 (!!!) set-menu price, was a pitcher of mint lemonade.
I get a little bit excited about mint lemonade, and so this was a fabulous surprise. And was it ever some good mint lemonade. We downed it speedily. It instantly brought me back to the mint lemonade I drank in Israel, when I travelled there in early 2010. It is ubiquitous in the region, and for good reason; could there be any more refreshing combo than lemon and mint? Sweetened, but not too sweet? I would not shut up about how exciting Lallouz’s mint lemonade was, and so on the way home Graeme insisted we stop at the nearby fruiterie and pick up a big bunch of lemons. Surely this was something I could recreate at home?
I am happy to report that–duh–yes, mint lemonade is super easy to make, and a perfect refreshing drink to help you deal with the summer heat. If you are like me, and have mint growing in the garden so fast that you can’t keep up with it, this is a great use for some of it. I completely winged the recipe below and it turned out totally to my liking, so you should feel free to wing it too, and get it just how you like it. And stay cool.
Makes 1 pitcher full.
1.5 cups lemon juice (about 7-8 lemons)
1.5 cups simple syrup*
a bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
3 cups water
Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and serve in glasses over lots of ice.
*I warn you, I like my lemonade nice and tart. Adjust the simple syrup to your tastes, and definitely sweeten it if you think I’m a crazy sourmouth or something.