So Long, Sweet Summer.
It is a bittersweet thing to say goodbye to summer, but there is nothing like a colorful bounty of late August produce straight from the farm to bring the season to an end. John decided this would be exactly the way our summer should come to a close, by enjoying all our local community could offer us before I had to depart back to city life–and the French Culinary Institute! Oh, yeah, and… work– full-time.
While I had been anxiously awaiting John’s party all week, myself and the rest of the Island were also just as anxiously anticipating Hurricane Earl. Determined that the show must go on, John ventured to the East Hampton farmer’s market early Friday morning before the storm could get really bad (which it never did, excluding our very wet entrance, and a brown-out that killed our melancholy mix of music for a brief moment).
John had picked up a diverse and mouth-watering wealth of produce– from red, orange, yellow, green, and deep purple heirloom tomatoes of varying shapes and sizes, scallions, vibrant (and incredibly fragrant) basil, and of course no meal would be complete without some of David Falkowski’s mushrooms (this time they were oyster, which John had been telling us all summer, are the absolute best). He had also picked up some mozzarella cheese, made that morning in East Hampton town. And Vanessa and Conor had brought over a selection of veggies from their garden as well, including carrots, plum tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.
While sipping Campari and Sodas (though we agreed given the weather, Dark and Stormys may have been more appropriate), John prepared our first course, a really simple dish that he promised would really surprise us. Sautéed Scallions with a little ground black pepper and sea salt– it doesn’t get easier than that, yet I had really never thought about serving them alone. The fresh scallions were so flavorful, and incredibly delicious.
For our next course, I prepared stacks of heirloom tomato slices, the FRESH (did I mention it was made that morning?) mozzarella cheese, and basil, topped with a little extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and just a fine drizzle of a really beautiful bottle of balsamic. We soaked up the tomatoes’ juice, oil, salt and vinegar with some fresh baguette.
Now with the flavors of this mild, sweet, airy cheese, the occasional salty bite, or zesty and herbal from the basil, we moved on to our fourth bottle of wine, and the main dish.
The main course would really be a showcase for the beautiful oyster mushrooms. Sautéed lightly in butter and garlic, he served the mushrooms over fregola, with a sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley and shaved parmesan.
Our conversation, the music, our wine, and most of all our food was spectacular. The mushrooms stole the show– we dedicated a solid five minutes to trying to put together some words to describe just how amazing they are. If we came up with anything, that thought out definition must have gotten lost in the wine.
For Dessert I baked a really simple Kutchen with some sugar plums I had bought on the North Fork. Not too sweet, with just a hint of cinnamon, topped with some vanilla frozen yogurt, and of course, paired with some more wine, it made for a pretty fabulous finish to an incredible meal.
We held toasts to many things that night. To great friends, great food, and some new and exciting things happening this Fall. Outside, it no longer seemed like summer, but we were full and warm from wine and the comforting of the season. Autumn will arrive soon with new ingredients for another dinner party, and the promise of more fond memories to come.
About the Wine (Thanks for helping me remember John).
Chateau Le Thil Comte Clary Pessac Leognan 2004 White Bordeaux. We loved this. Great light wine with a beautiful lychee finish.
Brunello di Montalcino 2004. Started great but faded quickly. Started with a smoke and cherry front, after breathing a bit flavor became less complex and more fruity.
Clos Del Conde
PRIORAT 2004 Spanish Grenache/Carignan/Cabernet/Syrah Blend. We loved this.
Chateauneuf Du pape “Galets Blonds” 2006. We really loved this. With a higher alcohol content, this flavor quickly hit the back of the tongue. Full-bodied and complex, we tasted fruit flavors and a sweet tannin along with a hint of richer, darker flavors like espresso.