Summer entertaining in Texas’s extreme heat is sometimes so challenging that even the savviest hostess can’t beat the heat, but I sat down with legendary Houston Restaurateur Tony Vallone to talk about the best eats and drinks to keep party guests cool and coming back for more.
“It is not easy to entertain in Texas past about mid-June, but there are so many things you can serve your guests that are cool and refreshing,” said Vallone. “I love chilled soups like gazpacho. At the restaurant, we serve a great one that is prepared in the Italian manner with no cream or butter, just fresh shrimp, crab meat, octopus and yellow heirloom tomatoes – it is very refreshing and light.”
“I also love light pastas, salads and fruits. You can incorporate frozen grapes into just about anything during the summer and they are delicious. Peaches are in season right now and they are good after dinner infused with grappa. Prosciutto and figs are always a crowd favorite and this year is one of the best years I can ever remember for figs – they taste great right now,” said Vallone.
Let’s not forget about one of the most important parts of entertaining in the summer – the drinks. Anyone can have a cooler of beer or even a great wine to keep their guests cool, but if you really want to stand out signature drinks are fun additions to any party. You could stop in to one of Mr. Vallone’s three Houston restaurants, Tony’s, Vallone’s or Ciao Bello to try the Star Spangled Cooler or Boozy Adult Milkshake Shooter or you can make them yourself with the recipes below, courtesy of Tony himself.
Houstonians have been lucky enough to have Mr. Vallone as part of the restaurant scene since 1965, and he shows no signs of slowing down. “I love to entertain because I love people, but I am never home long enough to do it myself. My home is my restaurant and that is where I spend most of my time,” said Vallone.
Star Spangled Cooler
- 1½ oz. St. George American Gin
- 1 oz. Fever Tree Ginger Ale
- 1 oz. cranberry juice
Fill a tall glass with crushed ice. Combine all ingredients and stir. Garnish with Texas blueberries.
Boozy Adult Milkshake Shooter with Doughnut Floater
- Espresso Carmel milkshake
- 3 cups espresso ice cream
- 2 tsp coffee liquor
- 1/2 cup baileys
Blend by hand until smooth
- Doughnut batter
- Four 8 oz
- Baking powder 1 tbsp
- Salt 1/4 tsp
- Vanilla paste 1 tbsp
- Vanilla extract 1 tsp
- Eggs 2
- Sugar 1 oz
1 —Whisk all together by hand.
2 — Fry at 350 until golden brown.
3 —Dust with granulated sugar.
4 — Punch out with ring mold to fit shot glasses.
5 — Slide straw though and put inside glass with milkshake below.