RECIPE + VIDEO | Celebrate Independence Day with Norfolk Festevents and two yum-mazing watermelon recipes

By Patrick Evans-Hylton

In celebration of Norfolk Festevents’ 4th of July Great American Picnic & Fireworks, we’ve got a delish drink and a delish eat just for the occasion.

The event takes place Sunday, July 4 at Town Point Park, on the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront from 5 until 11 p.m. The fireworks display is set for 9:30 p.m.

A list of the live entertainment, tips before you go (such as consumption of alcoholic beverages on-site), and more information can be found on the Norfolk Festevents website, www.Festevents.org 

Here are a few red, white, and yum recipes to enjoy over the holiday weekend and throughout the summer:

CHEERS TO THE FOURTH OF JULY

WATERMELON-TINI

The quintessential fruit of summer is the watermelon. It’s found at just about every outdoor gathering throughout the season. While you can’t beat eating ice cold slices of the melon, we’ve got another way to enjoy it.

Our Watermelon-tini is a delicious mix of fresh fruit and other intoxicating ingredients. Have ingredients, like prepared watermelon juice, on hand and shake cocktails easily and quickly for guests

The drink is spiked with a premium, local vodka from The Reverend Spirits in Norfolk.

We look for watermelons from area growers at farm stands, farmers markets, and our favorite green grocer, Westside Produce & Provisions in Norfolk. 

Note: alcohol is not permitted in Town Point Park and many other public spaces, so enjoy this cocktail in your backyard or on your boat, if you are viewing Festevent’s  Independence Day fireworks from the water. 

There are notes below on how to make this refreshing imbibe a mocktail. 

Here’s how we make it:

Chill two martini or white wine glasses. 

Puree 2 cups of watermelon chunks by either placing them in a colander placed over a bowl and pressing the fruit with a spatula through the holes or add the fruit to a blender and pulse until slushy. 

Pour the juice, 3/4 cups vodka, 1/2 cup agave nectar,  juice of one lime, and a handful of ice in a cocktail shaker and shake well. 

Strain the shaker contents into the two chilled glasses and garnish each with a small watermelon wedge or extra cubes of watermelon on a cocktail skewer. 

Make it a mocktail: leave out the vodka and after shaking the non-alcoholic ingredients and straining into the glass, top with seltzer.

If you are transporting your mocktail to Town Point Park, prepare everything, including straining the drinks, and carry in a thermos. At the event, simply pour into serving cups (no glass containers are allowed in the park) and top with seltzer.

Vodka comes from The Reverend Spirits; visit www.DrinkReverend.com  

BON APPETIT TO SUMMER ENTERTAINING

WITH WATERMELON CAPRESE SKEWERS

Summer is a great time for entertaining outdoors, but with the heat, we look for crisp, refreshing dishes to serve. Our Watermelon Caprese Skewers fit the bill for easy entertaining.

Rather than tomato, as in a classic Caprese Salad, we substitute summer’s favorite fruit, watermelon. To make things even easier, we skewer  watermelon cubes along with classic Caprese Salad ingredients, basil straight from the garden and fresh mozzarella. 

The mozzarella we use are small, individual-sized balls but you could use cubes cut the same size as the watermelon. A sprinkling of our homemade Herbes de PEH-vence seasoning garnishes the top.

For an added treat, fold a small piece of thinly sliced Virginia country ham, perhaps from Edwards Virginia Hams, into a ribbon and skewer between the watermelon and the basil leaf.

Here’s how we make it:

Cut watermelon into approximately 1 inch-by-1 inch cubes. Place on a platter and add a fresh basil leaf. Place on top a small fresh mozzarella ball or piece of fresh mozzarella sliced into the approximate size of the watermelon. Hold together with a skewer.  

Optionally, add a thinly sliced piece of Virginia country ham folding into a ribbon between the watermelon and the basil leaf.

If you’d like the recipe for our homemade Herbes de PEH-vence seasoning, email Patrick@VirginiaEatsAndDrinks.com with “French Herb Seasoning” as the subject.

If you are heading to Town Point Park for the Independence Day events, place all ingredients in separate containers and carry watermelon, basil, and mozzarella in a cooler with an ice pack. Assemble each skewer once you get to the park.

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