Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Strawberry Soda - Call It What You Like

My husband and I started dating when I was just shy of 19 and he almost 21.  Our first date was the night after we met, and we went bowling with another couple.  Afterward we went to Denny's where he picked up the tab.  I remember not wanting to look presumptuous, so I picked up the bill first to show my intent to pay half.  He snatched it out of my hand, scanned it over and let out a semi-snotty "psshaw" type of huff, stating "I make this in 2 hours."  The bill was just over twenty bucks and I remember being slightly put off by his obvious attempt at showing off, but also slightly impressed that a twenty year old was making ten bucks an hour.  I was just barely making $7/hour bagging groceries at our local Ralph's.  I decided to continue dating him.  Gold digger.

The courtship continued, although we rarely went to Denny's after that and he instead ramped up his 'A' game and starting taking me to The Old Spaghetti Factory.  Does anyone know that restaurant?  They are a chain but not widely distributed.  I still love that place.  The spaghetti with Mizithra cheese is heaven on a plate.  Bonus for a young dating couple like us was that you could pick up dinner with a salad, a nice loaf of bread and even spumoni for less than $30.  Knowing how much of a baller my suitor was, I often ordered myself an Italian Soda instead of a regular Coke.  I think they were $2.49 each as opposed to Cokes which were $1.50.  I've got expensive taste right?

My mom, Taylor and I were on our way home from an event in Pasadena a couple of weeks back and we stopped at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Duarte.  I ordered the usual, and instead of getting a grown up drink, I went ahead and ordered an Italian soda for old time's sake.  It was as good as I remembered it!  So good that I attempted to make my own at home.
Strawberry Italian Soda:
For Strawberry Simple Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup sliced strawberries
For Italian Soda:
1 pint of half and half or whole milk
1 small can of Soda Water (not sparkling water)

Make a standard simple syrup by boiling 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar until sugar is dissolved.  Add 1 cup of sliced strawberries and let cool.  Strawberries should infuse into the simple syrup within an hour.

Once cool, fill your cup with ice and pour in milk or cream 3/4 of the way full.  Add about 3-4 tablespoons of strawberry simple syrup (depending on how sweet you like it) and then top off with a small pour of soda water.  Garnish with mint and strawberries.
 *You can also make a vanilla Italian Soda by using vanilla infused simple syrup; you just won't get the pretty pink coloring.

Since this post was somewhat of an ode to my husband, I need to ask for your advice ladies.  As you know, we celebrated our 12 year wedding anniversary on Easter.  Well I somewhat dropped the ball on making my husband feel special and getting him a gift.  He got me a very thoughtful gift, and I got him a card.  We are going out to dinner on Friday to actually celebrate and I'd like to pick him up something small (meaning not expensive), yet thoughtful.  Any good suggestions?  Thanks!


  1. Now that looks so yummy!
    We loved the old Spaghetti Factory. Branden and I have been going there since high school. We've taken the kids a few times and we were so giddy talking about "the old times".

    Please wish your sweet girl a very Happy birthday from us. I'm sorry I am a little behind on all of my well wishes. Happy, Happy 12th anniversary as well. Sorry, no good gift suggestions.



    PS - Hope your followers send in some more books. I can assure you that I am NOT looking forward to spending 3-4 days in the hospital this weekend with an uncomfortable toddler. Those books and toys from the child life center are a life savor.

  2. That looks SO YUMMY!

    I love The Old Spaghetti Factory. Great food for a great price. My palette is not super sophisticated. Haha.

    I am not good in the male gift giving...Sorry, Friend!!

  3. I love that place too--even the look of the Duarte one just makes me giddy--quirky, I know. I've never had an Italian soda--might need to go try one so I can see if what I can make comes close...

    Gift giving for my man is never as good as how thoughtful he is...sorry!

  4. That looks absolutely yummy! My mouth is watering. Can we make those on craft night?

  5. This post made me laugh. Happy anniversary!
    As to the soda, if you make it a plain Italian soda, not a cream soda, and add basil with the strawberry, it tastes fantastic! Perfectly refreshing on a hot summer day.
    Love from,

  6. There are so many things I want to say about this posting, such as:
    1. i can't wait to make that italian soda!
    2. what a sweet way of meeting your husband & i want to meet mine that way, although i'm just shy of 22 and still in school
    3. you should get him a pocketknife if he doesn't have one, every man should i think. or just make tons of food, i don't think he would reject!

  7. Gold digger... Ha! That was funny!

    The lady that I posted about today on my blog has gift ideas over at her blog. I'm awful about coming up with good ideas, but she might have something useful. Most of them are gifts you make yourself.

  8. Send the kids to grandma's, make him one of his favorite meals at home, look out onto what will be your new fabulous pool, and reminisce about all of your wonderful years together and those to come.

    Colby and I go out on date nights but rarely stay in. We've done this before and it is so much fun to stay in without the kids. We wake up the next morning, go out to breakfast, and then pick up the kids.

  9. Okay so I just actually looked it up and see that a true Italian soda is only soda and syrup, however, I did find one other recipe that used half and half as well. The ones at The Old Spaghetti Factory definitely use some sort of cream and so I'm going to go ahead and still call this an Italian Soda, but I guess it's also a cream soda as Greta mentions up above. Either way, they're good people, no matter what they're called! :)

  10. I always thought Italian soda + splash of cream = French Soda?

  11. yeah this looks more like a milk shake than the italian soda's I'm used too - I got all excited b/c I want to learn to make one with the new water carbonator thingy.
    Any hoo - how about a gift certificate for some guitar lessons. He would probably enjoy that.

  12. Okay I am changing the name of this post now! To just strawberry soda...HA!

  13. yum. That looks delicious! I like. You could get him a dozen of symbolize your 12 years together..maybe even wrap it in an egg carton if they are pieces. Just a thought. THanks for sharing dearest!


  14. How fun! My husband and I went there on our third date, and then had our lunch their after we went through the temple. Needless to say we love that restaurant, and their Italian Sodas are delicious! As far as a gift goes, I have yet to celebrate even a 1 year. I have only been married 6 months, haha. But maybe reinacting the date, or getting Him somthing that He had when he was younger that he loved but doesn't have anymore that he would maybe enjoy having again? Ok, probably lame. I have no idea, I'm only pretending to help. Good luck? Haha, sorry Andrea!

  15. ooh, i love nicole m's idea of a dozen of something. what about making a small homemade book of your top 12 memories over the past 12 years, or 12 things you're thankful for about him on little notes in an egg carton, or a list of 12 cities you've kissed in and a "kiss coupon" & travel book for this year's location. just thoughts...have a great date!

  16. Well, I'm weird about dairy being mixed with soda pop. So sue me. But I must admit, yours looks tres impressive!

    As for the gift? I'm no good. Cory usually asks for a new lens (I laugh) or nothing at all. I like the pocketknife suggestion above! Maybe you could have it engraved with something sassy??

  17. That looks AMAZING!!! and now that I read the ingredients, it makes sense why italian sodas are so good. :)

    As for gift ideas, I'm just about as clueless as you. I always just go shopping with my husband and he picks something out himself. It's not a surprise, but it's always fun because we're normally constrained to our budgets, but on special occasions (like Mother's day! yay!) we get to pick something special out that we normally would be unable to buy due to the budget :)

  18. How about a 12 year old bottle of wine and a dessert that maybe ties in with your wedding day somehow? Have a wonderful dinner! ;-)

    I get the manager's special at The Old Spaghetti Factory ~ half mizithra and half meat sauce. Creamy pesto dressing and we tell the wait staff to skip the regular butter and bring double garlic butter! ;-) The one in Duarte is closest to us, but we have yet to get there......must. go. soon.

  19. Thanks for your lovely support today..

    The Old Spaghetti Factory we have one in Toronto :) Love this little place, and it may be because as a child my parents use to take me here and it was beside another restaurant we would go called the Organ grinder where a monkey would play an Organ and bubbles would be blown, random sorry haha just got me thinking!

    That soda looks yummy, I have never had one of these, im eager to try this..

    and oh my gosh your readers left the greatest idea, I think my brain is tapped out :S

  20. oh my gosh guys, I can't beleive I also forgot to mention in the blog post that we had our rehearsal dinner at the OSF! That's how much we love/loved that place! Thanks for all the great anniversary suggestions BTW!

  21. Oh yum! That cream soda looks so great. Bravo!
    What a great post.
    12 year gift? There are some fun ideas above. I always follow the gift guide for anniversaries, cuz I like tradition. But, 12 yr is a little tricky for gifting to a man. Modern is pearls & Traditional is Silk/Linen.
    Okay. I thought of something, as I just typed that! I did this once & it was fun. Bake in lingerie (silk ones) or you could wear a linen apron & be in your birthday suit underneath. How's that?! :)

  22. Love the sweet story! And yum - love the old spaghetti factory!

  23. we had our rehearsal dinner there too :) it was the best place to have it for 75 people.
    ps. SO making this


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