Dinner With Edward

Sometimes a little book, trapped between much bigger tomes on the library shelves, catches your eye.  The spine was plain and the title simple.  I read the blurb, took a flick through and decided to check it out. And am I glad I did.

I love stumbling across a new book in the library. Of course I have my many favourite authors who I count the days (well, months or years at least) until they release their new book.  And, if they take too long, I may re-read some of the titles which are really dear to my heart.

25810609However, there’s something wonderful about discovering a new author (or new to you), a book you’ve never heard of, and having it turn into a new favourite. It doesn’t have to be a deep book, classic or contemporary literature, intense or full of themes and theories. It can be simple. Easy to read. A pleasure. An indulgence.  And that’s how I found Dinner with Edward.

As I have mentioned in other posts, I spend a lot of time in Stratford and a favourite way to start my Saturday off is at Balzac’s with a hot drink, one of their raspberry muffins, a window seat (or on the back deck, in the right weather of course) and a new book.

Dinner With Edward fit easily in my purse. I took my seat, a sip of my cappuccino, and began to read. And read. And read. I was halfway through the book before I even noticed. And that’s a good thing, right readers?

Isabel Vincent, investigative journalist and former foreign correspondent, was born and raised in Toronto but moved with her husband and daughter to New York in an effort to help save her marriage. It didn’t.  Isabel stayed in New York, working for the Post, and spending time with her books and her friends.  One friend, who lives in Europe and was on her way back home, asked Isabel to keep any eye on her elderly father, Edward, who was grieving after the loss of his wife of 60 years.

What is at first simply a gesture of kindness, helping a friend out, monitoring the life of an aged parent, has unexpected results.  Isabel’s and Edward’s shared passion for food, wine and perfect icy cold martinis becomes the cornerstone for a special, more deep and lasting friendship.

Edward and Isabel get together once a week, for a meal lovingly and expertly prepared by 90 year old self-taught amateur chef Edward at his apartment on Roosevelt Island .  Through Edward’s sharing of memories of life with the love of his life, Paula, and recipes, Isabel is able to see her way forward in life after a difficult divorce.

The book is charming and warm, difficult to put down, and with descriptions of meals that even the non-foodies will find mouthwatering. This book is a treat as well as a hint to, as Edward professed and followed for his 95 years, remember that every day we have with our loved ones is a gift.

In honour of Edward’s love of martinis, I will share a recipe for a delightful summer martini of my own. It does require a little advanced preparation but the end result is worth it.

Frozen Watermelon Martinis

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
5 cups watermelon, seeds removed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/4 cups ice cold vodka
Lemon slices (garnish)

Set 8 martini glasses plus the bottle of vodka into the freezer.

Create a simple syrup by combining sugar and water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Puree watermelon in a food processor or blender.  Add a little of the cooled simple syrup.  Taste.  Add more if needed.  Pour watermelon mixture into ice cube trays and chill until frozen (minimum of 4 hours).

When ready to serve, put frozen watermelon cubes into blender with more simple syrup, lemon juice, and vodka.  Blend until smooth.

Pour into martini glasses.  Garnish with a slice of lemon.

– Sandi H.