All summer long, I stalk my local farmers market for the week’s freshest offerings. I initially recce the aisles, recalling recipes, pairing ingredients in my head, and determining how much produce one person can realistically consume in one week. Some salivating may occur, but I try to restrain myself, lest I look too much like a crazed, hungry predator stalking stationary prey.
When I see a quart of berries or a bushel of peaches, I think of all sorts of delicious baked goods, of course. I love the grandeur of beautifully constructed pies and tarts, and the satisfaction of turning out crisp, flaky pastry from a handful of simple ingredients. But, when temperatures and humidity soar, that pastry is sometimes difficult to achieve. That’s when I throw in the tea towel, and dream up ways to work those lovely, fresh fruits into a crisp, refreshing porch cocktail. Read more
The margin separating spectator from participant is narrow. My teeth rattle to the rhythm of hooves striking the hard ground. Fine particles of dust settle on my damp skin. The tang of sweated horse flesh burns in my nostrils, tastes salty on my tongue. Thundering concussions ring in my ears and bold colors flash before my eyes like a lightning storm.
If we were having coffee, I would probably be having tea. I would share this sunny patio spot with you, an overflowing bowl of toothsome, sweet White Lady peaches between us. I wouldn’t be very gregarious this morning, because I’ve been a little low. We would be sitting across from each other, enjoying each other’s presence, but our chairs would be angled slightly, releasing the tension from our open circle. I hope you would be happy to simply lean back and close your eyes, savoring the invigorating dance of the sun on your skin after so much rain. I heard there are more storms on the way.
A mint julep will always have a place in my summer cocktail rotation, from the first sip on Kentucky Derby Day to the last sip on a late summer evening on the porch. I shared a very large pitcher of them with some friends recently, and I was struck by their simplicity and versatility. The eight of us have diverse tastes, but we all agreed that there’s no better cocktail for a summer party. I don’t know why the mentholated chill of mint and the fiery warmth of bourbon complement each other so well, but they certainly do. A bourbon drink that’s refreshing enough for sticky summer days is as good as it gets. And one that doesn’t require a ton of fiddly measuring and mixing is perfection.
The Remains of the Day has been recommended to me over and over again. Finally, when I saw it at my favorite used book store, I picked it up and shelved it. Somehow, the book never made it to the top of my reading list, though. Despite my affinity for Downton Abbey and all manner of British period pieces, it seemed too blatantly Anglophilic for me. I don’t enjoy reading just anything written about British people, but I do appreciate that uniquely British pairing of scathing humor with unnatural, almost illogical, stoicism. That’s why I enjoy Evelyn Waugh’s books, for example, or the lovely gem that is William Boyd’s Any Human Heart—one of my favorite reads of the year. In more ways than I had expected, Kazuo Ishiguro’s book was different from my usual fare.