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Spring has sprung! Yet we feel like it’s never truly spring until all of the flowering trees around town burst forth from hibernation. A profusion of dainty pink cherry blossoms or “sakura” is also what makes honeymooning in Tokyo or Kyoto extra romantic during their spring season. The sextet of Saké restaurants around Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane celebrate the famous arrival of the cherry blossoms annually.

They’re shaking up a limited-time menu of four original cherry-inspired cocktails (available September only) including the one we’re sharing with you today for our Spring Issue.

This recipe is a twist on a classic sour cocktail and the name refers to viewing cherry blossoms at night – swoon! You can find yukari shiso salt at Japanese specialty stores, but this drink is worth a shake even if you can’t find it.

This month, all Saké venues are also hosting a series of weekend picnics that would make for a brilliant bridal shower idea or even a lovely thank you lunch for your bridal party. Guests will feast on delicate Japanese picnic bites and sip free-flowing rosé bubbles while sitting on the floor tatami-style surrounded by an influx of blossoms. Mix up a Yozakura cocktail or two this afternoon and ponder your guest list!

Yozakura by Saké

  • 60ml Ketel One Citroen vodka
  • 20ml Monin cherry syrup
  • 30ml lemon juice
  • 15ml egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • Edible flowers, T2 Turkish Cherry tea and/or Yukari shiso salt, to garnish (optional)

Dip one side of the rim of a Nick and Nora glass in lemon juice, then dip the rim in cherry tea and salt. Pour remaining ingredients into a cocktail shaker and dry shake for 30 seconds. Add a handful of ice and shake for another 30 seconds. Double strain into glass and garnish with edible flowers.

About Ms Fleur De Lys: Aside from being Ms Polka’s Editorial Assistant, Ms Fleur de Lys is also Polka Dot Bride’s Melbourne correspondent so you’ll see her running all over town finding wedding inspiration. As both a lifestyle journalist and cocktail aficionado, Fleur appreciates the power of words whipped up as deftly as a good martini.

Images by Eugene Hyland

Spring has sprung and there’s plenty to celebrate! And it’s not just the sunshine. Spring is the season of engagements, bridal showers, hen’s days, buck’s days and of course, fabulous weddings. The change in season that brings lightness, freshness and fun can and should also be celebrated in your event menu.

Here are 2 mouth watering canapé recipes that truly celebrate the flavours and essence of spring!

Betel leaves topped with prawns and ginger
(Makes 24 pieces)
• 2 tbsp peanut oil
• 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• 1 long red chilli, finely chopped
• 4 cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
• 1 tbsp coconut cream
• 24 x medium green prawns, peeled, veins removed, chopped or left whole
• 1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
• 1 cup coriander leaves
• 24 x betel leaves, washed and dried
• 1/2 cup of roasted and crushed peanuts
• To serve lime wedges

Method:
Heat a large frying pan over high heat, add oil and heat until oil begins to smoke. Add half the garlic, chilli, ginger and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add half the prawns and cook for 1-2 minutes each side. Add half the fish sauce and coconut cream, toss to combine. Then remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with remaining halves of same ingredients, then add to prawn mixture in bowl and stand for 10 minutes. Stir in coriander leaves.
To serve, top betel leaves with 2 tbsp of the pan mixture and 1 x prawn for each betel leaf. Scatter with peanuts and serve with lime wedges.

Crispy Pork Belly Pieces with Caramel Sauce & Asian Herbs

Makes 20 pieces of pork belly
• 750 grams of pork belly (preferably a square piece)
• Rock salt to season
• 1/2 cup of brown sugar
• 1/3 cup of red wine vinegar
• 3 star anise
• 1 cup of chicken stock
• Juice of 1 x lime
• 1 cup of mint leaves
• 1 cup of coriander leaves
• 1 cup of Thai basil leaves
• 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
• 1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced

The day before:
Preheat oven to 220 degrees. Score the pork belly skin at 1cm intervals. Place the pork on a rack in a roasting pan, skin-side up. Rub 2 tablespoons of salt into the skin, then pour in enough water/chicken stock to fill the pan to just under the rack. Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes or until the skin is crispy, then reduce the oven to 140°C and roast for a further 2.5 hours or until the meat is tender, topping up with water/stock as necessary when it evaporates. Transfer the pork belly to a board, carve into bite-sized cubes. This can be done the day before the event if needed.

Meanwhile, place the brown sugar, red wine vinegar and star anise in a saucepan over low heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 15 minutes, then add the chicken stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the mixture has reduced by half. Add the lime juice and continue to reduce for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is syrupy. Allow caramel dressing to cool slightly.
For the garnish – wash and finely slice the mint, coriander, Thai basil, spring onion & red chilli – mix together.

At the event:
To assemble – place pork belly under hot grill (BE CAREFUL IT BURNS EASILY) until it crisps up. Place each piece of pork belly in a serving boat, drizzle with the caramel sauce and sprinkle with some of the chopped herb mix.

Stay tuned for Friday’s tips on catering a Spring cocktail event!

Ms Zebra Says:  Both of these recipes are not only tasty, but simple enough to do at home and in advance for your event! Thanks for sharing – these will go into the repertoire for all our upcoming events!

Two Pounds love catering for all types of events – private & corporate, big & small. What started in a tiny kitchen in a Prahran apartment has now evolved and seen us take on our second space in Armadale. Every event we take on, especially weddings are really important to us and we feel extremely lucky to be taken on the journey with our clients. Food, hospitality staff, beverages, hire items and event planning/management are the areas we can look after for our clients to ensure we make the process as stress free as possible for them.

Writing, re-writing, trimming, expanding and making tough decisions about your guestlists can be a long and arduous task. Happily, this original cocktail that NSW-based coffee roaster and distiller Mr Black has created and kindly shared with us for ‘The Invitation issue‘, has the caffeine kick necessary to keep you going! It may be just the spicy, sweet and strong saviour you to need to keep you from deciding to elope come late nights of stuffing endless envelopes and licking stamps.

Finally, here’s an addictive coffee cocktail that’s not an espresso martini. Plus it’s a simple enough recipe so that you can quickly stir yourself up another when it comes time to pick out stationery designs for your wedding (and the engagement party… and the bridal shower… and the hen’s night – oh dear, can you whip us up a few too, please?)

Midnight Aperitif by Mr Black

  • 40ml Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur
  • 15ml Aperol
  • 90ml Fever-Tree Ginger Beer

Add Mr Black and Aperol to a tall Collins glass and stir well. Add ice cubes. Top up with ginger beer.

About Ms Fleur De Lys: Aside from being Ms Polka’s Editorial Assistant, Ms Fleur de Lys is also Polka Dot Bride’s Melbourne correspondent so you’ll see her running all over town finding wedding inspiration. As both a lifestyle journalist and cocktail aficionado, Fleur appreciates the power of words whipped up as deftly as a good martini.