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The official start of the sweet, sweet summertime is nigh - and when it comes to those culinarily-inclined, the June 21 kick-off is full of all sorts of awesome.
Bring on those peaches, cherries and watermelon! And if you want to add a cold glass of sangria to the spread, we certainly would not object.
Oh summer, how do we love thee? Let Jacob Sessoms from Table Restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina, help us count the ways.
Five Thoughts on Spring/Early Summer in the South as a Cook: Jacob Sessoms
I love to slice it very thin and keep it raw. Dress it with lemon juice, really nice extra virgin olive oil, toss it with grated Pecorino Romano cheese and pine nuts for a simple, healthy salad. Run away with this idea: add different nuts like hazelnuts, then dress it with hazelnut oil, add fresh strawberries.
Maybe make it more filling with buttery croutons and cold poached shrimp. We know asparagus loves to be sautéed, but roasting it and serving it with poached eggs is even better."
My wife likes to muddle strawberries into a Mint Julep; my buddy and co-chef, Matt, prefers to muddle them with cucumber into a Pimm's Cup for the best Steeplechase cocktail. I like them the best with sugar and cream.
For something a little more intriguing, try strawberries with dill, mint and black olive served with whipped feta with lots of cracked black pepper."
3. Soft-shell Crabs
The easiest is, obviously, battered and deep-fried. However, like everything else, we're always looking for different preparations that work.
My favorite right now: grilled and served with one of the salads mentioned with raw asparagus or strawberries and feta."
We usually start with a rosé of Pinot noir from Sancerre. Next, the Provençal blends arrive. Then the Tavel from Southern France, and finally (for us) the crazy rosé from Liguria in Italy. This one is awesome with a bright red color and huge strawberry flavors.
However, right now, my favorite is a rosé of Pinot noir from Robert Sinskey in Carneros, California. This rosé has a bright, salmon color with deep herbal flavors, and aroma of fresh berries. It has proven to be perfect with a porch and sunshine."
It is usually in the months of May and June, that I am determined to stay at home and make dinner, invite friends over, drink a cocktail, open some wine and make a big, simple, home-cooked meal.
Then, I take the next day off and go visit one of my friends in their restaurant and be served a dinner with all the new vegetables coming in from the South."
What sweet taste of summer are you looking forward to? Share the delicious joy in the comments.
Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.