Grist for the Mill
Holy paletas, it’s that time of year again. Ice cream cones, ice pops, cookouts, BBQs, floating down the river, waddling in the creek, and praying for a breeze. It’s truly the most iconic time of the year in the North State—sure, everybody’s always a little swampy, but it never stops us from engaging in a full calendar of summer activities. Gardens are resplendent and oh-so- Instagrammable, backyard tomatoes exploding like a bunch of Piccolo Petes leftover from the Fourth of July, bright and juicy, singing in slews of salsas and gazpachos. I look forward to every season change, but there is nothing like the nostalgia of summer flavors. I rely on the steadfast overabundance of zucchini, take it for granted that pretty much every watermelon is a good one, and that by August, there will be blackberry stained lips and fingertips. It’s the summer life.
I asked my husband his favorite thing about summer, and without hesitation he said, “Peaches.” When he and I were kids (yes, we’ve known each other since we were kids, it’s very precious), we knew summer was upon us when the local grocery overflowed Tom O’Gorman’s peaches. They were huge, they were juicy, and they were perfect. We still venture back home every summer to the Trinity River farm stand in the sunshine on the side of the road, eating peaches while the juice trickles down our fingers and faces, laughing at our good fortune to be alive and eating Mr. & Mrs. O’Gorman’s peaches. That’s one of them in the photo this page. As far as being a distillation of an entire season, the peaches are a pretty solid example.
When I posited the same question to my eldest son he thought about it and said, “Fish; we tend to eat a lot of fish during the summer.” This is very true. Grilled fish, fish in foil packets, or en papillote, fish is a summer staple in our house. Fresh trout, smoked salmon, whatever fishes we can get our hands on, simply seasoned with a little salt and pepper. In these pages you might recognize the writing stylings of Jen Harrison, former owner of Blush Catering—her smoked salts are a beautiful way to finish that fish. Speaking of finishing, we also have a new writer, Stephen Caldes, with an article about plating simply and beautifully to help your fresh summer offerings shine.
As Shubert’s celebrates their 80th anniversary this summer, I hope to see your pictures and posts with cones in your hands raised in triumph, and know that I enjoy every one of your summer photos—whether they celebrate a tomato or a peach or just picture a broken thermometer. Stay cool!
Sara Calvosa Olson