Food & Wine by Natasha OrtizFortier
As a child, during early summer months, a Saturday didn’t go by without my mama dragging me to Miller Farms in Clinton, Maryland to help her pick strawberries. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy picking (and eating) the fruit, we'd just had to get up so gosh darn early. And I still am not a morning person. I can only guess mama wanted to beat the mid-day heat.
The cashier would often joke, “I think we should put her on the scale instead of the baskets.” It was true for every one berry I put in my basket, I’d eat three or four. The flavor of the berries bursting in my mouth was so sweet, juicy, fleshy yet bumpy. The taste and texture were so addictive, I couldn't help my self. By the time we finished picking and went to the register, I was tired and full.
We didn’t do much pickling or preserving. In retrospect, it would have been great to enjoy during the winter months. Whatever we picked during the weekend, we ate during the week. Sundays were my favorite, I’d get to add the fresh blueberries to the ragga-muffin mix. It complimented the farm fresh eggs and thick-cut slab style bacon so well. For a special treat, mama would make, one of my many favorite, strawberry and chocolate chip pancakes. Strawberry were added into the batter and placed on top with melted butter and chocolate syrup. I’ll admit, it sounds gross but on my it tasted delicious! We also made lots of muffins, cobblers and cakes.
Patty Oakley-Audia, pastry chef at ATWATERS recommends “adding a little sugar and lemon juice to the fruit, put it in a tart pan, add mixture of oats, brown sugar and butter and sprinkle on top [of the tart]. Bake it and you have a fruit crisp.”
Choosing fruit can be tricky, here's a few helpful tips:
Peaches and Nectorines:
• should be firm in hand but not mushy.
• should be free of soft spots and blemishes
• too ripen let sit on the counter 2-3 days
• always taste the batch you plan on buying
• should be plump, full and free of mold
• should have a deep red or blue color
• store in air-tight containers
Making the most of your summer fruit can be fun. You can pickle your watermelon rinds, make preserve, or simply grill it. For a quick and easy dessert, add fresh berries and fruit to sorbets and ice cream. In a rush to catch your carpool or commuter train, make a smoothie. They are healthy, quick and very easy.
If you reside on the east coast, summertime is like Christmas for folks who love fresh, locally grown produce. The supply is abundant, the quality is good and prices are affordable. Try something new and tell me about it.
You can use a simple syrup mixture to macerate (soak) your fruit, but this recipe kicks it up a notch. I like to use Rieslings or Vouvrays. Keep in mind, when macerating, if your fruit is very sweet select a wine that’s semi dry. If your fruit isn’t sweet, choose a sweeter wine. Feel free to substitute fruits. This recipe is a wonderful compliment to serve over new york style cheesecake or vanilla bean ice cream. Or you can simply add a dollop of whipped cream and enjoy! I've also used grand marnier instead of wine in this recipe, it's also quite good,
Macerated Fruit Salad, serves 4
All fruit should be fresh.
4 White peaches, pitted and sliced
1 cup of blueberries
1 cup of strawberries
2 Tbsp of granulated sugar
1/4 cup of semi-dry (or sweet) Riesling
Fresh Whipped Cream
Toss fruit in a large bowl. Pour sugar and wine over fruit. Mix gently. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours. For best results, chill overnight.
Serve with whipped cream and a spring of mint (to make it pretty).
Black & Blue Powerhouse Smoothie Makes 2 services
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup of fresh blackberries
1 Tbsp ground flax
2 Tbsp honey (add more if you like it sweeter)
2 scoops of protein powder
8 oz vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup orange juice
ice, if needed
Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend to desired consistency.
For thicker shake add more yogurt and less juice.
I use frozen berries instead of ice.
“The biggest misconception about Rieslings is that they are super sweet but they can also be bone dry,” says Matt Carroll, wine associate at Grand Cru. I must admit, I shared this view of Reislings until I began to try different varieties. While I am mostly a red wine drinker, during the dog days of summer, I prefer a light semi-dry white wine. This is a nice alternative, when you get bored with drinking Chardonnay. I provided three offerings, with Trimbach as my favorite!
2004 Cave Spring Riesling Ontario Canada ($12-$16)
A fair yet well-balanced semi-dry offering.
It’s a little drier than I expected but refreshing.
2004 Trimbach Riesling Alsace France ($16-$20)
Truly something special. I love this Riesling. It’s fruity with
pronounced peach flavor and a nice finish. It’s the perfect balance between dry
and sweet. A symphony of flavor in your mouth (i.e. totally yummy).
Basignani Riesling Sparks, Maryland ($11-$14)
A local Maryland winery that offers a decent Riesling.
It’s for those with an affinity for sweet wine.
Natasha OrtizFortíer is a writer, educator and creative marketing
communications consultant living in Baltimore City.
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