In Season

Tuesday afternoons after work are for listening to Beethoven on the classical station and watching the clouds stream past the windows very quickly on their way over to the East Bay. From where I sit at my table, I can see the tops of the trees at Alamo Square Park blowing about quite fiercely; it will be a windy night tonight.

Though it’s true in summer the song sings itself (according to William Carlos Williams, anyway) — especially when it is very hot, sunny, and clear along the coast — today is not one of those days. But Sunday was, and here is proof:

[The Bay Bridge from the ferry]

The thing about summer is that usually all I want to do is eat ice cream — preferably soft-serve — and swim in the river, but this is San Francisco, a place where the weather frequently belies the season. Here, it is almost August and instead of tanning my toes I’m thinking more about roasted vegetable and barley soups, fall dinner parties, and edible holiday gifts. This is a strange place, and I love it so — for that, and for other things — but sometimes I miss swimming in the ocean …

But this past weekend was a true summer stretch, hot and sunny, and that helps to make up for it. I spent it out of town, up in Sebastopol, with old friends and family where I pretty much ate and slept (and drank wine, oh yes) my way through to Monday. It started when I got dropped off Friday night at my parents’ house; I petted the cats, checked out the new backyard, and then sat down to a delicious and unique lasagne: chard, potatoes, and mozzarella sandwiched between layers of slightly crisp pasta — with no red sauce. The next morning I made scrambled eggs with mushrooms and parmesan which took about two minutes to make, but along with lots of strong coffee kept me going for hours. And then we trooped en masse to a party, bearing wine and champagne and cake.

[ Plum-nectarine upside down cake for a party, July 2007]

There were a few things I couldn’t eat — bbqed oysters, and enormous salmon, sausages — but plenty of things I could –pasta, salads, cookies, cheeses, breads — and I thoroughly stuffed myself. I’m not running these days, so I really should be mindful of how much I’m eating (the runner’s appetite is truly voracious), but it’s impossible not to eat and eat when things taste so good. The breads were fresh-baked and local, the pesto was thick and garlicky, the fresh tomatoes juicy and delicious with more garlic and olive oil. We ate and talked outside for hours until the sun finally set and eventually I made my sleepy way home (thanks to a friend and her mom who graciously drove me). Now I’m really in the mood for Greece and dining out in the open air.

So tonight, despite the fog and the wind rattling my windows in their casings, I am going to remind myself it’s still summertime by indulging in farmers’ market bounty. Turning the oven on for tomorrow’s book group anniversary fete (cupcakes, bien sur) should warm things up a bit, and I’ll raise a glass of red wine to toast my very lovely, very summery, rather spectacular, weekend.

[Salmon, at the Gioseffis, July 2007]

Late-July Dinner

Fresh mozzarella with basil, market tomatoes, olive oil, and salt
Pesto with penne pasta
Slow-cooked zucchini with basil and olive oil

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