This is a column from last year, when we were still COVID-wary. I have taken the Spy Test Kitchens on the road for a little R&R. We’ll be back next week. Enjoy!
Last Friday night we popped out of our COVID-imposed bubble and ventured into public for dinner in a restaurant. There were people! There were people who had made bad shoe choices! There were people who brought me a tall, sparkly French 75, and would have brought me another one had I been foolish enough to think I had the youthful stamina for a second. But best of all, there were people who cooked for us.
Normally I am a little leery of the fancy, au courant, artisanal places whose menus are heavily reliant on ingredients that are currently in season. I am always sure that I will wander in during lima bean season, or rutabaga season, and then will I will be sunk. But on Friday night we walked smack into the middle of peach season.
We shared a lovely plate of lightly grilled peaches and tomatoes, doused with olive oil and dotted with soft clots of bleu cheese. Yumsters. Such a light and sweet appetizer! And easily recreated at home. Except on Saturday night we grilled the peaches and tomatoes, substituted some fresh mozzarella for the bleu cheese, and drizzled a homemade vinaigrette dressing over plates of crisp arugula. Dining at home can be seasonal and au courant, too!
Emily Nunn’s Perfect Mustard Vinaigrette
1⁄2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (Mr. Sanders prefers it without the mustard)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1⁄2 teaspoon of sea salt (or more to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper
Place the ingredients in a jar and shake until it is completely emulsified. If you like garlic on your salad (I often do) start the recipe by mashing together a clove of garlic and the salt in a mortar and pestle (or with the back of a spoon, in a bowl), then whisk in the remaining ingredients.
Yotam Ottolenghi can teach us all how to prepare wondrous peach dishes:https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/aug/19/peach-recipes-yotam-ottolenghi-galette-shrub-bellini-runner-beans
It’s time to get creative! Summer is the time for juicy watermelon, thick tomato sandwiches and dripping peaches. How can you appreciate a peach unless you feel the velvet skin with your own sticky fingers? If you haven’t had peach juice run down the front of your shirt, you have not had a satisfactory summer experience.
Mr. Sanders sliced half a peach onto his bowl of cold twiggy cereal this morning, leaving the other half for me on the cutting board. I ate it over the sink, because the juices dripped furiously and there wasn’t anyone around who would point out that I should have been ladylike and used a napkin. Don’t neglect any opportunity to just seize the day, and a peach, early, and eat it in your own free-spirited summer fashion.
Perhaps I will have to ditch the usual French 75, and opt for a Bellini the next time we venture out of the Bat Cave. But I think I will practice at home first: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/bellini And I will pretend to be sipping it at Harry’s Bar with a crowd of pretentious American ex-pat writers from a previous era. Remembering to limit myself to just one, because they do pack a punch.
“The people that I liked and had not met went to the big cafes because they were lost in them and no one noticed them and they could be alone in them and be together.”
― Ernest Hemingway