All of the sudden, it’s summer. That’s northern France for you. Wind whistles, grass is covered with frost, flowers have that slightly frozen etch around their petals until very late in the spring then BAM! The sun is out, the air is a warm caress, and rose is in the fridge, chilling for supper.
Tomorrow is the farmers’ market in my town of Louviers, and I’m so eager to see what’s there that I can hardly wait. You wouldn’t think much would change from one week to the next, but it does. We’ve been through asparagus season, the very early harbinger of spring, but it’s taken an age for anything else to come along. Now, though, with this burst of warmth which has summer woven all through it, there is likely to be shiny zucchini ready to steam and cover with minced garlic and parsley, and melons will finally send their alluring aroma through the air, begging for a squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkling of peppers and diced shallot, for a pre-meal salad. There may be a few early tomatoes, and strawberries will at long last lend their warm, almost syrupy flavor to a tart, a fruit salad, or a glass of red wine.
As for seafood, well, the sardines are jumping into the fishers’ nets, and I will dredge some in flour, cover them with minced sage and garlic, and bathe them in olive oil and vinegar for a summery escabeche. I’m doing a big dinner and skate wing, straight from the English Channel, is on the menu. I will serve it with a capery sauce atop crushed new potatoes that I’ve sprinkled with tiny strips of fresh basil and dabbed with fresh farm butter. For a real nod to summer, I’ll add a mound of freshly boiled peas that are so sweet they belie their vegetable status and almost taste like dessert.
Tomorrow I just know I will also find bunches of new onions, tiny beets, blushing young shallots, juicy cloves of new garlic, and carrots as thin as a pinky. Anticipating this, I’ve made aioli to serve alongside this summer wealth, for a market picnic. I’ll follow with the sardines and a crisp baguette (for sopping up the sauce). Dessert? A bowl of cherries in ice water.
For dinner, we’ll have the skate wing with potatoes and peas, a big crisp salad in a delicate vinaigrette, and a chocolate tart covered with sliced strawberries and dusted with confectioner’s sugar.
Oh summer, how happy we are that you are here!
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