Summer Eating Greatest Hits

With Labor Day weekend upon us, and after this most majestic Seattle summer, everyone’s getting nervous. I bet you’ve had at least one palpably anxiety-ridden conversation this month about what we’re all ‘gonna do when the wonderful weather disappears. Even long-time Seattleites are less dismissive and nonchalant about summer’s end. Should it extend through September, many will mark this as one of THE best summers in recent memory. Even if it doesn’t, it was one hell of a run.

So in commemoration of this truly righteous summer, I’ve started going back and re-hashing some of my favorite food memories of the season. I hope it inspires you to think about yours (and even write them down).

• One of my best friends from back east visited for several weeks this July. Stunned by the amazing produce we had (I dragged him along to three separate farmer’s markets), we fell into a casual routine each night before dinner of slicing big ‘ol ripe (as in eat immediately) orangey-red heirloom tomatoes with salty mozzarella from the Ballard farmer’s market, doused in olive oil, salted, peppered and strewn with fresh basil from a plant we managed not to kill. It’s such a passé appetizer, I know, but it’s just so good. Choosing the tomatoes from the market always filled me with both glee and trepidation: how to get the tomato that’s as juicy and flavorful as possible without being mushy and over-ripened? More times that not, I got it right, and we sat on the deck, sun shining down and enjoyed the salad.

• The same friend was giddy with the size and sweetness of the blueberries and blackberries. So we got into an after-dinner dessert groove too. We took turns whipping heavy cream, added a little sugar and Chambord to it and piled the fluffy concoction onto the berries. I don’t think there’s a dessert that’s better (except maybe figs with the whipped cream; see more about that here). I’ve been buying four pints of berries each week; mixing and matching blueberries, blackberries and strawberries, as I imagine you are too.

• Throughout August, I regularly bought the “Wild & Spicy Salad Mix” from Washington’s Alm Hill Gardens (see photo).The mix included Arugula, Tat Soi, Mizuna, Red Mustard greens, Curly Cress and Red Russian Kale—and had this incredible peppery, slightly bitter bite and wonderful crunch to it that made it a natural partner with a sweeter dressing like an Orange Champagne vinaigrette.

• The Gin & Tonics we made for our friends and neighbors all summer: a combo of small-batch Counter Gin from Batch 206, small batch pure Tonic from Jack Rudy Cocktail Co., soda water and Scrappy’s Cardamom Bitters.

• The best dessert I had all summer at Spur: A very thin layer of fluffy sponge cake moistened with a super rich, very forward Tasmanian Leatherwood Honey, surrounded by three small Jasmine meringues, two lovely ovals of peach sorbet and slices of fresh white peaches, all beneath a crumble that was crushed, dehydrated peach skin. For more on that dessert, click here.

• Evening ice cream runs to Molly Moon’s for anything with Lavender or Rhubarb in it…

• Making and licking “Sour Cream, Cherry and Tequila” and “Spicy Pineapple Ice Pops” from Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas Frescas by Fany Gerson.

• A picked watermelon rind and crispy bass salad at Wild Ginger

• Root beer sno-cones with my daughter at Green Lake

• Something barbequed and served with many amazing sauces at Revel for my birthday

• An amazing chef’s dinner at Matt’s at the Market. See here for more on that. (And, hooray, it’s coming back next year and rumor has it Gabrielle Hamilton from Prune in New York may be on the roster of visiting chefs.)

• Sipping Gloria Ferrer’s sparkling wine on their terrace with my girlfriends in Napa

• Trying new, crisper, less sweet Rieslings, like “Teegarden’s Riesling” from Washington’s Rosebud Vineyards—and sipping them on a sunny day at the recently-opened Top of the Barrel Wines in Woodinville.

Share some of your own summer food memories. I know you have them!

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