Chef Nigel Spence: How to Make an Iced Tea Sangria


By Nigel Spence
CJ Contributor

I was saddened to hear of the passing of a very familiar and legendary actor, Leonard Nimoy – most popularly known as Lieutenant Spock on the equally popular series, Star Trek.  He can be quickly identified in the show by his awkward, pointed ears depicting his Vulcan heritage.

For some reason though, the news of Nimoy’s death affected me more than I expected and for a while I pondered on this.  Perhaps it’s because I grew up with Spock.  Not literally, of course, but watching Star Trek was an integral part of TV life for me, which started back in the day and carried on over the years. So many times Scotty “beamed me up” to the house top so I could pick and eat ripe cherries or mangoes from the branches that hung over the roof of the house.  Once, I remember reading a rather high utility bill and heard myself say, “It’s not logical”.

The characters were more alive and familiar to me than the actual actors.  It’s as if time stood still – the good times…a simple, carefree time. No matter the years gone by, the characters remained certain, unchanged and never aging, Spock included.  By that token, I felt unchanged and never aging…well in my mind at least! However, the loss of Nimoy disrupted all my comfort zones. Spock was finally gone taking along with him, some of my youthful memories.

Have you ever just heard a retro TV theme song in the distance and become awash with nostalgia?

For instance, the other night I heard the theme song for “Lost In Space” being played on a certain network channel.  I had to laugh, remembering as kids, we pretended to be “Lost In Space”.  Our favorite mango tree was used as the spaceship. We would ride on the thick branches, the leaves going up and down and blossoms falling everywhere. In fact, once or twice, blossoms were not the only things that fell from the tree…but we managed to keep that quiet!

So in tribute to my dear old friend Spock, whose words I have often quoted: “Live long and prosper” and whose words have profoundly directed my life, I thought it only fitting to include one of my favorite recipes; one that has withstood the test of time, remained unchanged and never aging.  Ladies and gentlemen of the Enterprise, man your battle stations and go to warp speed as I present a bold creation from the galaxy memoirs.

While watching a vintage episode of Star Trek in the sun room on the first day that rose above 60 degrees for the year in New York City, I decided to ring in Spring with my  sprightly “go to” summer drink, an iced tea Sangria.  As I sipped on it and gazed at the vibrant colors in the glass I thought to myself, not quite the logical intense blue but probably just as satisfying as a Romulan Ale!

Summer Sangria

6 C Water

4 Lemon Tea Bags

3 Tablespoons Sugar

2 C Dry Red Wine

2 Tablespoons Triple Sec

2 Tablespoons Brandy

1 Green Apple, thinly Sliced lengthwise into half moons

1 Lemon, Thinly Sliced into half moons

1 Lime Thinly sliced into half moons

Bring water and sugar to a boil then remove from heat. Steep tea bags in the water for 5 minutes, remove and cool in the fridge. Pour mixture into a pitcher with the wine, triple sec and brandy. Stir to incorporate then garnish with sliced apples, lemon and lime. Fill wine glasses with ice and serve, making sure each glass gets some of the sliced fruit.

Nigel Spence, a Culinary Institute of America alumnus, was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Nigel freelanced at the Television Food Network for 3 years where he worked with culinary luminaries such as Mario Batali, Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse. Chef Spence has appeared twice on Throwdown with Bobby Flay where he emerged the victor in cook offs against the Food Network star and was featured on CBS  when he appeared on Tony’s Table as well as ABC’s Neighborhood Eats, NBC’s  The Today Show , Sirius’ Everyday Living with Martha Stewart and TVFN’s Chopped. The acclaimed and New York Times-reviewed Ripe Kitchen and Bar is Mr Spence’s first entrepreneurial endeavour.