There isn’t much that I can say about Cleveland, or LeBron James, or Northeastern Ohio, or our beloved basketball team that hasn’t already been said before by someone much more qualified than I am to craft a narrative about the impact of a sports team on its city.
But luckily for me, bloggers don’t need many qualifications aside from a domain name and a mild to moderate case of narcissism, so I’ll do the best I can to express my thoughts on this subject in my usual way: with a simple recipe and heartfelt words.
I’ve had the urge to write a Cleveland-centric post for some time now, and it’s not just because the Cavs are in the Finals this year. Nor is it because, just days ago, they were down 3-1 and then miraculously clawed their way back to tie up the series after two legendary performances that had the entire city beaming. And it’s also not just because for the first time in fifty-two years, Cleveland is one game away from a championship title and we’re all currently losing our minds.
And above all – it’s certainly not just because the Cavs are doing well right now. Or this year.
It’s because, win or lose tomorrow, I freaking love the Cavs.
And I love things that are good for Cleveland.
So, what does a mere ice cream blogger know about basketball, or sports teams, or athletes? Quite frankly, absolutely nothing (and trust me, I’m reminded of this every time I watch a Cavs game and need my husband to explain to me for the fourteenth time, what it means to “draw a foul”).
I’m not writing this pretending to be a massive, lifelong Cleveland sports fan, or an athlete, or a basketball expert, or an analyst. Because I am none of those things.
But I don’t have to be.
Because I’m a fan of Cleveland.
And what the Cavs have done for this town – this entire region, even – is bigger than basketball, bigger than sports. They’ve given our humble, hard-working city a unifying rally cry. A reason to believe.
And whether you like him or not, LeBron James has given this city a hero.
Go ahead, roll your eyes – argue with me that there are individuals much more deserving of the label “hero” than a millionaire sports star. I suppose it’s all a matter of opinion, after all.
But strip away his titles, his celebrity, his supreme athleticism. And what you have left is an inspiring story about a kid from Akron, Ohio with the odds stacked against him, who could have very well been another unfortunate statistic, but instead grew up to be one of the greatest (if not, the absolute greatest) basketball players and athletes of all time. Even more impressive than his athletic prowess is his devotion to his local community, how he tirelessly continues to provide opportunity to disadvantaged children and young adults in the greater Cleveland area. He is a living, breathing example of someone who not only survived the odds but who has flourished, and he offers a glimmer of hope to the struggling youth of Akron who in some cases, don’t have much else to believe in other than the idea that LeBron James was just like us once.
If that’s not at least one definition of a hero, I don’t know what is.
Sure, winning a championship title in Cleveland isn’t going to remedy our socioeconomic injustices, bad weather, or other numerous troubles that have plagued this city for years and years. I think everyone in Cleveland knows that.
But if the Cavs are able to take home a title on Sunday, it would be a great day in Cleveland. A really, really great day. And if any city in America deserves a great day, Cleveland is a top contender in my book (but perhaps I’m biased).
Regardless of how tomorrow’s Game 7 turns out, the Cavs have already given this city, this region, so much. They’re so much more than a sports team – they embody everything we are in this city. Gritty, hard-working, unapologetically passionate. Proud.
And that’s why I love Cleveland. And Akron. And everything in between. And all of Northeastern Ohio, really. It’s why, even though I’m young and I know the world is full of amazing opportunity and unforgettable places, I don’t ever want to live anywhere else. Even if I wanted to, I don’t know that I could. And everyone I know here feels the same way.
Championship title or not, that’s a win in my book.
Don’t be fooled by this gorgeous sorbet – it’s a bit gritty, too. And drunk (so really, the perfect edible representation of your typical Cleveland sports fan).
Even if you’re not a Cavs fan and the colors of wine and gold hold no significance for you, or even if you hate Cleveland, or hate me, or hate this blog, this sorbet is undeniably delicious. And boozy (it uses a full bottle of wine!) So there’s that.
Better yet, it comes together with minimal effort. You do need an ice cream maker, but if you don’t have one, you could throw the mix in popsicle molds or stir every few hours in the freezer for a refreshing granita.
The key flavor (and ingredient) here is wine which makes for a super soft and melty sorbet, but on a hot weekend like this, it’s perfect. The berries add a nice tartness, and I threw in a splash of citrus for brightness.
For the gold swirl, I ordered these tiny gold stars from Amazon, but you could use any gold colored decorations.
One thing’s for sure – even if you don’t live anywhere near Cleveland, this sorbet will leave you feeling festive and buzzed (which coincidentally, is just how every Clevelander is feeling this weekend).
Because I lack the eloquence and experience to craft a motivational message in anticipation of tomorrow’s game, I will simply say this:
Let’s. Go. Cavs.
Cleveland fans, I’ll be amongst you tomorrow. Stomach in knots. Heart pounding. Daring to believe.
Happy scooping, Cleveland!
Wine and Gold Sorbet
Yield: 1 quart
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 bottle of your favorite red wine
- 3 cups of berries (I used 1 cup blackberries and 2 cups raspberries)
- 1 tablespoon of fresh orange juice
- In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar, water, and red wine to a boil and let boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and add the raspberries and blackberries. Cover and let steep for 1 hour.
- Purée the berries and remove the seeds by hand by using a rubber spatula to press the mixture through a mesh strainer set over a bowl, or use a food processor or blender to puree and then run through a strainer or cheese cloth. Add in orange juice, then chill the mixture in the fridge or freezer until thoroughly cold (I put mine in the freezer for about 2 hours to quicken things along).
- Freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t worry if it looks more like a slushy than sorbet – it will harden up in the freezer.
- Sprinkle on gold decorations, then place in a storage container and freeze for 4 to 8 hours or overnight until hardened. Sprinkle on a few more decorations before serving.
- Enjoy 🙂