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Posts Tagged ‘Summer Salads’

It’s hot. I was in France last week and it was hot. I came back to Chicago, and it was hot. So damn hot. In this kind of weather I don’t have much of an appetite, not that it slowed me down much in France (copious amounts of cold rosé certainly helped) but back home, my dinners have been a bit lackluster. Truth be told, I decided the other day I wasn’t going to eat much else besides fresh sweet corn and cold watermelon for rest of the month.

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“Street Food” has been a big, hot food trend for the last few years with everyone and their brother doing some sort of riff. In the right circumstances, it can be a wondrous thing. On a late night in Bangkok, I had the best fried chicken of my life made in a wok perched on the back of a bicycle. The scenery was gorgeous, the cooking set-up was unbelievable and stunningly resourceful and the chicken is something I still dream about. If it hadn’t been 3am when I got back to my hotel, I would have gone back for more. I’ve eaten freshly fried samosas wrapped in newspaper from an Indian doorway, bite size water buffalo dumplings from a giant steamer set up in a Nepalese courtyard and countless tacos from beach peddlers. They were all spectacular. My best travel memories often involve food.

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During the summer when it’s hot and I’m lazy, I don’t do a lot of involved, complicated cooking. Well, not as often as in the cooler months. I’m still prone to wacky things, like making French onion soup in July when the craving hits because what are you going to do? But most of the time I just sort of throw things together with stuff from my garden or farmers market purchases. Simple, fresh ingredients that taste best served really cold lead the list.

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Three things signal the height of summer produce like nothing else: sweet corn, tomatoes and peaches. Three of my very favorite things. That they all show up about the same time around here is an opportunity for rejoicing. This is when the summer BBQ season really peaks, when pie crusts get rolling and a regular dinner around here is nothing more than 2 or 3 ears of corn with butter, salt and pepper. I eat an ungodly amount of corn in these few short weeks.

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Earlier this summer I went to a rather fabulous farm dinner event at Rustic Road Farm in Elburn, IL.  Yes, Elburn.  Head east of downtown Chicago during rush hour and it’ll take you two hours.  The farther you go, the more the landscape changes from highways and subdivisions to fields and fields of corn and soybeans, dotted with the occasional red barn. Eventually, you hang a right and end up at Chef Marc Bernard’s farm, Rustic Road.  I was in heaven and it took all I had to get back in my car and drive back into chaos.

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