It’s time to face facts: summer’s almost over. At least summer in the sense of kids not being in school (most of them have already gone back) and summer blockbusters (I didn’t want to see “Guardians of the Galaxy” but someone told me there’s a talking tree in it so now I do) and summer clothing adorning the mannequins at your local mall (now it’s all stuff for fall). Still, if you live in L.A., summer’s not going anywhere. There’s very little weather-wise here that distinguishes June from July from August from September from October and so forth. Sure, it gets a little chillier as the months go by, but summer never abruptly ends the way it does in other places. Which is why this cobbler is something most of you need to make right away before you’re facing a pile of fallen leaves and why I get to make it for a few months longer than you. Be very jealous.
What you are looking at, in the above picture, is the best thing I can imagine eating right now. Mario Batali once said on one of his shows that the best time to eat corn and tomatoes isn’t August, it’s September. My trips, recently, to the farmer’s market confirm this: the tomatoes couldn’t look plumper or more colorful. And so it was, last week, that I bought a few red ones, a few yellow heirlooms, some zucchini and a bunch of herbs–basil and dill–and came home to make a pasta dinner that had my eyes rolling back in my head, it was so terrific: an edible “last hurrah” for summer.
Summer’s almost over which isn’t a big deal here in L.A.–it’s almost always grilling weather here–but for the rest of you, I bet you’re split into two groups: those who are grilling up a storm and those who, like me, don’t have the courage to play with fire. Well, that was me until 24 hours ago when, inspired by you and all of your comments (thanks!) I finally tackled that final hurdle of my culinary education: the grill.
It’s August and you have no excuse: tomatoes and peaches are calling. Not the ones with little stickers on them at the supermarket, but the superior, positively bursting-with-summer ones you’ll find at your farmer’s market. “Ugh, but do I really have to go to a farmer’s market?” If that’s you, listen up: yes you do. And I’m going to walk you through it, tell you what to buy, in order to make an incredible Summer Farmer’s Market Feast for six. Are you ready? Let’s do it.
The farmer’s market can be an intimidating place, especially in summer when there’s just so much to choose from. Sometimes I get overwhelmed, buy a few peaches and tomatoes and leave quickly. Other times, I just buy everything in sight, a strategy that seems wasteful at first but which almost always pays off. When I come home with armfuls of bags and mountains of vegetables, I put them immediately to use and whatever I don’t use I pickle. It’s a win-win.
Delaying gratification is an exercise few food lovers can comprehend. We nibble the hors d’oeuvres before the guests arrive, we gobble up the bread basket before the waiter puts pad to pen, we’re ready for seconds while most people are still on their firsts. Which is why I deserve some credit for not devouring the Corn Cookie from Momofuku Milk Bar on my walk home from the East Village last week.
Despite this month’s banner, one of my favorite dishes to serve in summer is an heirloom tomato salad. It’s a dish that does the work for you: just buy an array of quirkily beautiful heirloom tomatoes–as many colors and shapes as you can find at the farmer’s market–cut them into slices or wedges and serve them with torn-bread croutons, green basil (plus purple basil if you can find it) and some shaved ricotta salata on top. The finished plate looks something like this….
[Hey, this is Adam The Amateur Gourmet. I’m on vacation in Barcelona, Spain and while I’m gone I’ve asked some awesome people to fill in for me. Today we continue talented female filmmaker day with another talented female filmmaker, Ms. Dara Bratt. (Check out her film, “In Vivid Detail.”) Dara isn’t just a talented filmmaker, she’s also an excellent cook–see here–but this post, I have to confess, has me a little worried. Take it away, Dara!]
What I’m about to share may shock you, some will be repulsed, others curious or even amused. Nothing beats a hot summer day like frozen pickle juice.