Rooibos blended with fresh peaches and vanilla bean makes a refreshing soda to enjoy on its own or, preferably, poured over coconut milk ice cream for vegan floats.
On July 20th I boarded a plane to Minnesota with Sarah and her family. This may not seem like a big deal, but it was my first time on a plane in about 4 years. Despite my love of travel, I look a lot like Meg Ryan at the beginning of French Kiss when airborne. For everyone’s sake, I tend to stick to transportation by car, boat, train, rickshaw… anything that stays close to the earth’s surface. But there was no getting around flying to Minnesota. So I braved my fear of planes, humidity, and mosquitos and off we went.
The lovely Amanda and Sherrie put together what promised to be a dreamy weekend of eats, drinks, and fun in the company of 10 incredible food bloggers from around the country. They’d rented a lakehouse near the Twin Cities, which happened to be in close proximity to where my dear friend Amelia moved earlier this year. I would go to Minnesota or die trying.
Three and a half hours and some good pharmaceuticals later, Amelia picked me up from the airport. There was a heatwave that week, but the warmth felt good after the chilly plane. “I’m in Minnesota,” I kept saying, “and I FLEW here!” Amelia asked me what I wanted to do my first night in Minneapolis. The answer was obvious. “ICE CREAM,” I said. I ate my feelings in the form of Halle Berry (frozen yogurt with a berry rose swirl) and Black (über-dark chocolate sorbet) at Milkjam, then in the form of a cheese plate and kombucha at Gyst fermentation bar, before heading back to Amelia’s for an epic joke-telling session and eventually passing out on her sofa in a drug-induced haze, the fan blowing warm air and white noise in through the window.
The next day, we headed to a lake house that Amanda and Sherrie had rented in preparation for an epic weekend full of blogger babes, food, and drink. I was so thrilled to meet some bloggers I’ve been following for years – Renee, Jayme, Kristan, Shelly, Emilie – and reunite with old friends like Amanda and Liz. #BossBabeFestMSP was pretty much the best vacation ever. We were pampered round the clock with delicious gluten-free vegetarian food, drink, and lots and lots of ice cream. In fact, I made it my mission to taste as much ice cream as I could. There was soft serve with olive oil and flaky salt at Lola, coconut soft serve at Wedge, buttermilk lemon bar and grapefruit sorbet at Pumphouse (my favorite!), tiny scoops of chocolate, blackberry, and creme fraiche at Izzy’s, and matcha mochi from the random Asian market we ended up at one stormy afternoon.
In addition to ice cream, deliciosity included:
- Silky hummus blended with goodness from Vital Proteins (our lovely official sponsor)
- Beet deviled eggs from the happy chickens of Vital Farms
- Amanda’s Strawberry French 75s
- Cocktails and mocktails (aka fauxtails) with Easy and Oskey Bitters, including a tart cherry and black tea fauxtail and snap pea bee’s knees (aka Pea’s Knees)
- Breakfast at General Mills including all the naturally-colored cereal we could ever eat
- A cereal bake-off in the Betty Crocker test kitchen
- Epic grain bowls prepared by Sherrie and Amanda thanks to Bob’s Red Mill
- A multi-course meal prepared especially for us at Saint Dinette that included two salads, a chilled soup, sweet corn ricotta gnocchi, cheesy squash blossom tacos, and a giant peanut butter banana split
- Smoothie bowls with Rodelle Vanilla and Now Foods super seeds
- Another insanely tasty multi-course meal cooked in our home by Create Catering courtesy of La Croix and preceded by an elaborate mocktail bar masterminded by Sherrie
- All the toast we could ever want to devour from Udi’s
- A flower crown workshop and too many beautiful housewares at Willful Goods
- Amanda’s absurdly good Salty Date Caramel Scotcheroos
In addition to getting treated like princesses all weekend long, we got goody bags loaded with delicious treats from Quinn, Grace Green Beauty, Jered’s Pottery, A Heirloom, Encha Organic Matcha, Le Creuset, and some crazy good chai almond butter from Big Spoon Roasters.
After the trip, I stayed on a few extra days to explore the town with Amelia. There were morning cheese tastings, waffles, pho, mocktails, more ice cream, pasta pasta and more pasta, and late night games of Gin Rummy over whiskey listening to Bessie Smith with the fan on full blast.
I’m so glad I faced my fears; it was the trip of a lifetime. For the flight home, I splurged on an upgrade to first class and learned that it was worth every penny, as being close to the flight attendants during take-off helps to chillax my anxiety (and, as it turns out, so do warm chocolate chip cookies, cheese platters, and limitless La Croix sparkling water). As for the humidity, let’s just say it was a good thing there was air conditioning everywhere we went. And as for the mosquitos, I managed to escape with just one (giant, welty) bite during a bloodbath in which I killed 5 mammoth mosquitos that snuck into the Airbnb I stayed in after the retreat. Shudder.
During the trip, we pretty much lived off La Croix sparkling water, which stocked the fridge day and night. I’m usually not a fan of flavored water, but one sip of their unsweetened grapefruit and lime flavors and I was hooked. I drank SO MUCH La Croix. If I was bubbling over with happiness that weekend, it may have been not only due to the stellar company and comestibles, but also because my insides were literally effervescent from all the sparkling water.
Inspired by the copious ice cream, bubbles, and tea-flavored beverages of our time in the Midwest, Sarah and I got together back in Cali to have a little ice cream float party in honor of #DrinkTheSummer. I blended ripe peaches with a concentrated rooibos infusion and vanilla bean for an easy soda that pairs beautifully with Sarah’s coconut milk-based ice cream. It’s stupid easy to make and the texture is sublime. Sarah’s float was equally stunning and flavored with blackberries, Earl Grey, and lavender. Float nirvana!
Rooibos and peach are a match made in heaven. The red South African plant tastes like earth, honey, and nectar when steeped. When blended with peach, it tastes a bit like perfectly ripe apricots flecked with vanilla. We couldn’t get over how well the flavors all paired with the tropical notes in the ice cream. For more ice cream floats, check out our video Trio of Floats.
Cheers to the last drops of summer!
- 2 tablespoons (6 g) loose rooibos tea
- ¾ cup (175 ml) boiling water
- ¼ cup (50 g) organic granulated cane sugar
- seeds from ½ a vanilla bean
- 12 ounces (340 g) ripe peaches (about 3 medium), pitted and cut into wedges
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
- 2 cups (475 ml) sparkling water
- 1 pint (475 ml) Sarah’s Vegan Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (or your favorite vanilla ice cream)
- Place the rooibos in a heatproof pitcher and cover with the boiling water. Cover and steep 5 minutes. Strain through a small mesh strainer, stir in the sugar to dissolve, and let cool. Place the tea in a blender with the vanilla bean seeds, peaches, and lemon juice and puree smooth. Strain the puree, pressing on the solids to extract all the good stuff. You should have about 2 cups of puree. Gently pour in the sparkling water and stir to combine; it will bubble up a lot. The soda is best fresh as the peaches oxidize quickly.
- To make floats, divide the ice cream among 4 large glasses and gently top with the peach soda, adding a splash more sparkling water to make them foam up. Serve immediately.
See all the lovely libations for #DrinkTheSummer 2016:
A Little Saffron | Beach Bum’s Rum
A Thought For Food | Tarragon Tequlia Swizzle
Downshiftology | Limoncello Prosecco with Blueberries and Thyme
Heart of a Baker | Green Tea Mint Cooler
Hungry Girl por Vida | Whisky Peach Alexander
The Green Life | Spiced Plum Fig + Kombucha Cocktail
Floating Kitchen | Peach Sun Tea + Bourbon Cocktail
Beard and Bonnet | Easy Melon Mojitos
EGD | Backyard Peach Sweet Tea
Appeasing a Food Geek | Basil + Black Pepper Gin Sour
Vegetarian Ventures | Garden Tonic Punch
Nosh and Nourish | Mango Margaritas with Chile Lime Salted Rims
Domesticate ME! | Watermelon-Basil Mezcal Margarita
The Foodie Nurse | Husk Cherry Margarita
my name is yeh | Choose Your Own Adventure Bloody Marys
Sevengrams | Cucumber Gin + Chartreuse Cocktail
Wicked Spatula | Coconut Gin + Tonic
Eat Boutique | Sbagliatos + Homemade Sweet Vermouth
Nutritionist in the Kitch | Healthy Muddled Blackberry Piña Coladas
Chocolate + Marrow | Pequito Verdecito
The Solstice Table | Jalapeno Watermelon Cooler
HonestlyYUM | Watermelon Fresh Herbs + Sotol Cocktail
Seasonal Cravings | Strawberry Lime Gin Rickey
Salted Plains | Frozen Honeydew Daiquiris
The Broken Bread | Honeydew-Ginger Apricot Mojitos
Fix Feast Flair | Ginger-Berry Splash Cocktail
Turntable Kitchen | Summer Cooler Cocktails, Two Ways
Foolproof Living | Blueberry Dark Cherry + Calvados Cocktail
Dessert for Two | Salty Melon Slush
The Wood and Spoon | Honey Basil Margaritas
Milly’s Kitchen | Golden Watermelon Ginger Basil + Tequilla
Heartbeet Kitchen | Salty Watermelon Shrub Elixir
TENDING the TABLE | Raspberry + Fig Hibiscus Cooler
Snixy Kitchen | Lavender Earl Gray Blackberry Ice Cream Floats
Gratitude and Greens | Hong Kong Style Crushed Watermelon Ice
My Heart Beets | Spiced Pistachio Shake
rooting the sun | Strawberry Fennel Soda
The Modern Proper | Vanilla Plum Shrub
Feed Me Phoebe | Watermelon-Cucumber Kombucha Coolers
Gourmande in the Kitchen | Stone Fruit Thyme Shrub Soda
dolly and oatmeal | Cold-Brewed Shiso + Hibiscus Tea Iced Latte
happy hearted kitchen | Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Fennel Orange + Cardamom
I am a Food Blog | Cherry Vanilla Sodas
Tasty Yummies | Fig Vanilla Bean Almond Milk
Let’s talk evergreen | Iced Earl Grey Yuanyang With a Hint of Rose
Kale & Caramel | Emerald Beaut Green Spritzer
Earthy Feast | Watermelon Hibiscus Agua Fresca
Now, Forager | Sparkling Plumcot + Purple Basil Shrubs
The Pig & Quill | Brown Sugar Blueberry Pie Shakes
Well and Full | Peach Bubble Tea
Sweetish Co | The Best Frozen Hot Chocolate
holly & flora | Spiced Pineapple Shrub Sparklers with Black Tea + Coconut
Pure Ella | Fresh Mint Tea
Hummingbird High | Watermelon + Mint Agua Fresca
See the party from DRINKTHESUMMER 2015 here!