Monthly Archive for July 2011
The kind of cooking that’s been happening in my kitchen lately is a summer kind of cooking. Most of the time, it’s barely “cooking” at all. It’s largely based on fresh produce—whatever has caught my eye. Last weekend it was tomatoes, an heirloom variety that was deeply red and wonderfully misshapen. They were sliced onto seeded bagels, under thin rounds of cucumbers and purple onions sliced into half moons. They were stuffed into BLTs, mine doctored up with snipped chives, while Kevin’s gilded the lily with a fried egg. They were diced into a salad—just the tomatoes, a crack of pepper, and crumbled feta. Salt, too. It’s the difference between a really great tomato and a transcendent one. Yes, transcendent. If there’s a cause for hyperbole, friends, it’s a ripe summer tomato. It just is.
There’s been some more involved cooking and baking (a baked pasta for our friends who have a newborn; homemade burger buns for a BBQ last Saturday; a smoked pork butt; endless batches of my favorite ice cream), but even that has taken on summer’s rhythms. I cook and bake in little pockets of time—when it’s raining, or after it’s dark, or before we set out on a giant walk. I love that kitchen—I do—but it will be there in the fall and it will be there still in the (dare I say?) winter.
Kevin would be in L.A. the week before the Fourth of July. So, we set our sights on a road trip up the coast over the long weekend. Kevin picked me up at LAX, and we drove north along the coast, where the endless blue Pacific slipped from the pristine beaches of Malibu, studded with surfers and life guard stands, into golden, rolling hills and rugged coastline.
Our first stop was Big Sur, and we got there just in time for sunset. An orange sun slid down through the trees and over the ocean, and we ate at Big Sur Bakery, on the front porch, with a votive candle flickering between us.
I made this dish last week, on the eve of the holiday weekend, and, while it was spot-on that night, it felt all wrong as I flipped through the photos. Who wants cauliflower over the Fourth of July weekend? When burgers beckon, and fire crackers sizzle and sputter, and ice cream is mandatory, whether it be perched atop a sugar cone or plunked into a frothy pint of root beer? When vegetables, if they must be eaten at all, take the much more summery shape of corn on the cob, or juicy tomatoes? When fruit is suddenly available in all hues, and often in pie format?
Right: me neither.