If there is one thing a dry country does well, it's fruit juice. (And coffee, but that's another post.) Juices here (not just Kuwait, but all the Gulf states) are amazing; I had a watermelon-cherry combo in Dubai that made me throw back my head in surprised delight. Maybe (probably) it's the lack of the HFCS, but when I drink apple or orange or guava juice, it tastes exactly like the liquid form of those fruits. Which, you know, is the point.
And that brings me to mine (ha!): several weeks ago the outside temperature had cooled enough to make an evening walk enjoyable, so Seth and I wandered down to a shisha joint about a mile from our complex. (Can I take this moment to comment on how cheap it is to smoke shisha here? One hookah cost 750 fils - less than three dollars. Compare that to the 20 euro Seth and I spent at one place in Cyprus. Gah!) Anyway, I ordered a lemon mint juice and between the two of us, it was gone in about sixty seconds.
Another digression: Seth has been cigarette-free for six months! While it may seem counterproductive to puff on anything at all, trust me when I say that shisha is much different than cigarettes, especially the fruity ones because they have less tobacco. Besides, what better way to use one's lung capacity than filling it up with watermelon-flavored smoke?
Anyway - damn, I am all over the place today - the drink was delicious and I was confident I could easily recreate it in my kitchen. I know how to make lemonade and assumed all I had to do was add some chopped mint leaves to the mixture and bam, lemon mint juice. Ah, me and my assumptions. See, that drink was so wonderfully minty that the lemon flavor was almost an afterthought and, save from using mint extract, I have not been able to duplicate the experience to my satisfaction.
But I'll share what I have, because that's what I do. For the first attempt I used seven lemons (for about a cup of juice) and the leaves of five mint sprigs (about seventy - yeah, I counted, convinced that massive quantity of leaves = massive mint flavor), pulsed in the food processor until thoroughly chopped, then drained through a sieve to remove seeds and larger bits of mint. I added water and and simple syrup and had a delicious pitcher of tart lemonade with maybe, maybe, a hint of mint. Hmph.
So I tried again, using fewer lemons (five, though they were large) and an entire bunch of mint, ends chopped off and the entire lot thrown into the processor, stems and all. I added half a cup of simple syrup, processed away, then let the mixture sit for about twenty minutes, allowing the mint to penetrate the lemon juice. Drain (this also gave me about a cup of liquid, but taking into account the SS I think it was about 3/4 cup of juice), add water and another half cup of SS and I had . . . sweet lemonade with a hint of mint. Damn.
Next time I may break down and add some extract, but I know (!) the shisha joint used mint leaves because there were pieces - tiny pieces - floating in the glass. Oh, and I apologize for the disjointed nature of this post - I have a lot of caffeine in me right now.
* I'll add the recipe once I've perfected it!