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I owe Michael Hoffman big time. He introduced me to Gather in Park Slope when it opened about six months ago. Gather is the neighborhood cafe we all dream of. Not only do they serve great coffee and pastries -- they also lay out a delicious, and ever-changing, spread of prepared dishes at both lunch and dinner every day. Their meatballs are tender and delicate, their macaroni and cheese is one of the best I've had, and their grain salads are an inspired lesson in textures. And let's not forget about their breakfast sandwich of sliced hard-boiled egg, kale and caper aioli on baguette.
Everything at Gather is great, but one of my favorite things about the place is the selection of fresh juices they offer every day. I first tried pineapple cucumber and mint, which was refreshingly unsweet. A few weeks ago, I ordered a strawberry basil lemonade -- it had a gorgeous blush and was also not too sweet. A perfect intro to summer. Last weekend I found myself with some extra strawberries and a wild tangle of basil in the herb boxes on my deck, so I attempted to recreate the lemonade. It takes all of 10 minutes, aside from letting your sugar syrup cool, and it just may be the star of your next party. Better yet, it's a good reason to throw one.
Adapted from Gather
1 cup sugar
3 cups hulled and quartered fresh strawberries
20 medium basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
Photos by James Ransom