Cherries and strawberries are tasty with Champagne

Rhubarb Bellini with summer fruits dipped in chocolate
Rhubarb Bellini with summer fruits dipped in chocolate

WINE WITH ALISTAIR GIBSON: Another Hampshire sparkler fizzing its way to top awards

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Hopefully this week’s recipe will eke out the last of the summer sun and heat we have been experiencing recently – summer fruit and cocktails.

Last week, the staff and I had a party and I was really trying to think of something original as an aperitif (pre-dinner drink). Of all the cocktails and fancy drinks I’ve had throughout the years, I thought I’ve never had rhubarb in a cocktail.

So, as you have now probably guessed, we are going to be making a rhubarb cocktail – but in the Bellini style. This traditionally consists of prosecco and a fruit puree, such as peach.

I am putting my twist on it and I will be using Champagne, instead of prosecco. You can use pretty much any sparkling wine, but as it is an Italian drink it is prosecco that is normally used.

To accompany these cocktails, I have gone for a bit of decadence and have coated some really nice summer fruits in chocolate. They can be eaten along with the Bellini to really kickstart a party with friends. The recipe could also be a perfect start to a romantic evening in with a loved one.

I have chosen cherries and strawberries as they are particularly good at this summery time of year, and, for the indulgence, some mango and pineapple.

The combination of this will be a winner and I hope you find a perfect time to enjoy your cocktails and chocolates.

· Kevin Bingham is the chef patron of Restaurant 27 at Southsea (023) 9287 6272.

RHUBARB BELLINI WITH SUMMER FRUITS DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE

EQUIPMENT

Two small saucepans

Small bowl

Hand blender

Sieve

Measuring jug

Flat tray

Greaseproof paper

Peeler

Champagne flutes

Cocktail stirrer

INGREDIENTS

One bottle of bubbly (traditionally prosecco)

Half a pound of new season rhubarb

2-4oz sugar, to taste

12oz bitter chocolate (70% or above)

One ripe mango, peeled and cut into finger slices

One ripe pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into even sizes

A punnet of strawberries (four each works well)

A punnet of cherries, 4-6 works well per person

METHOD

Prepare and wash your strawberries and cherries, leaving the stalks on.

With the other fruits place them in the fridge over night, so the fruit can dry out (this helps the chocolate stick).

Roughly peel and cut the rhubarb, and place into a saucepan with 2oz of the sugar and a splash of water.

Gently cook to make compote, and add more sugar if you feel it needs it – it should be a balanced bittersweet taste.

Then liquidise into a puree and pass through your sieve. Place into jug and leave to chill in the fridge.

Place your chocolate in a bowl and gently warm over boiling water until it has melted.

Remove the bowl from the heat and individually dip the fruit three quarters of the way in.

Place them on greaseproof paper and a flat tray, refrigerate until needed.

Place a dessert spoon of the puree in the bottom of the glass, and pour the bubbly over the top.

Serve with your chocolate fruits.