Pass me the Bellini and some cheese and crackers, would you? And could you ask that gondolier to move his boat a little?
What? Did I just take a quick trip to Venice where Bellinis were invented? Nah, it’s just the The Boathouse Restaurant in New York City’s Central Park, where there’s actually a gondola for hire. It may not be the Grand Canal, but it’s a perfect respite from a hard day gazing in galleries at the Frick Collection and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Yea I know it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.
Well if you can’t get to Venice, or even Central Park, you can make your own Bellini at home. A Bellini is made from Prosecco (a sparkling Italian white wine similar to champagne) and white peach puree. It originated in 1948 with Giuseppe Cipriani (founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice) in honor of the 15th century Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini. By now, it’s become famous around the world.
Now that peach season is here, it’s Bellini time too. They’re a snap to make. Start out with ripe white peaches. I got mine from a local farmer’s market and they needed a couple of days to ripen. The flavor is more delicate than yellow peaches and a requisite for a Bellini.
For two drinks, just peel a couple of white peaches and put them in the blender. Blend until you’ve got a puree and fill a tall fluted glass with one-third to one-half of the puree. Some people add a teaspoon of raspberry puree to give the drink a “pinker” look, but I left it out in the drinks below. Fill the rest of the glass with chilled Prosecco, stir with a spoon and garnish with a peach slice.
For the kids in the family, you can make a baby Bellini using soda water instead of the Prosecco.
Background music of “O Sole Mio” totally optional.
I leave you with an image of a painting of St. Francis by the artist who inspired the drink - Giovanni Bellini. It’s only one of the many stunning works of art in the Frick Collection. If you aren’t from the New York area and haven’t ever heard of the Frick, you owe it to yourself to visit next time you’re in the Big Apple. The collection is housed in a mansion at 70th St. and 5th Avenue, built in 1913 by the American coke and steel magnate and art collector Henry Clay Frick.