Tasting the foods of a season that always ends too soon...
Summertime is here, and with it a bounty of fresh ingredients.P erhaps the favorite season of foodies, summer brings us together celebrate national holidays, vacations and beach days with family, friends and foods that just don't taste as good during any other time of the year. A sun-kissed tomato freshly plucked off the vine, for example, tastes nothing like the store-bought tomato purchased in the middle of December. The same goes for fresh corn on the cub, sweet and crunchy and in no need of butter, unlike frozen or canned corn, which lacks any flavor.
This is the time of year to get creative with salads featuring fresh produce from your garden or farmer's market, grill burgers , chicken and shrimp, slice open a watermelon and enjoy S'mores around a campfire beneath starry skies.
Head over to the Santa Fe Farmers' Market on Saturday and Tuesday mornings (the Southside Market begins Tuesday, July 5 at Santa Fe Place) and load up your basket with fixings for the week—onions, carrots, tomatoes, beets, mushrooms, lettuce, organic meat and poultry, fresh eggs, artisan cheese, fresh-baked bread and quiche and so much more. It's always fun to ask the farmers you buy from how they like to cook each ingredient, and to learn a little bit about growing for a living in northern New Mexico.
When you need a break from the kitchen, you can still savor the flavors of summer at restaurants across the city that offer seasonal menus and daily specials that incorporate fresh, locally grown ingredients. 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar, for example, is famous for its Squash Blossom Beignets, served with a fondue of local goat cheese and savory tomato coulis. Light and airy, it's one of chef/owner Louis Moskow's signature dishes, and it's the epitome of summer, bursting with sweetness, flavor and beauty. Only on the menu for a limited time.
Bouche Bistro offers a hearty Bouillabaisse Provençale with Rouille and Crostini, a classic fish stew from the French Riviera. The broth is cooked for hours, with fish, shellfish, mirepoix vegetables, tomatoes and Spanish saffron threads, then prawns, fish and mussels, marinated in a spicy tomato sauce are added. The dish is topped with croutons made from Bouche's signature bread and topped with potato, garlic, saffron and olive oil aioli. One spoonful of this and you'll be imagining yourself on a beach in Nice speaking French...
It wouldn't be summer without lobster! For an elegant take on a true summer treat, try Geronimo's signature Mesquite Grilled Maine Lobster Tails at Geronimo, served with angel hair pasta, spinach, edamame, creamy garlic chile sauce. Or tuck into a bowl of The Compound's Butter-Poached Maine Lobster Risotto, made with morel carnarolli rice, white wine and morel stock, cress and Parmesan. For a fresh take on one of America's favorite seafood, order the #`10 at Rooftop Pizzeria, a blue corn crust loaded with lobster along with shrimp, applewood smoked bacon, mushroom, green onion, truffle oil, four cheeses and Alfredo sauce. And if you're out and about late night in Santa Fe, check out the lobster sliders at AGAVE Lounge in the Eldorado Hotel.
Soft shell crabs are another summer treat, and Midtown Bistro has cooked up a Soft Shell Crab with Truffle Oil Risotto Cake and Sweet and Sour Sauce. Or try the Hotel Santa Fe's Amaya Crab Cakes, made with roasted red beet puree, baby greens, grapefruit, orange and jicama salad with avocado cilantro vinaigrette.
Don't forget the fried oyster sandwich at Brian Knox's Shake Foundation, and savor it at one of the outdoor picnic tables at this rustic summer shack. Add in a side of hand-cut shoestring fries and a thick Adobe Mud Shake and you've got a slice of summer on your plate.
For a good old-fashioned summer classic, head on over to Loyal Hound for Old Skool Fish-n-Chips, made with beer-battered fresh fish o'the day and served with house-made fries, green chile cole slaw and malt vinegar tartar sauce.
So now that the season is officially here, take time to savor the flavors of summer, the foods of a season that always ends too soon.