Here we stand a month into this pungent, brown, retrogressive summer, the likes of which has not been seen for quite some time. Perhaps it ‘aint right, this heat, this drought, this anxiety laid upon the poor farmer. Or perhaps it’s “so right it aint right.” If you are like me and relish the eudaemonic concomitance of hydro-solar, eonopoetic gastronomy, then all is good. The endless summer of 2012, a veritable documentary on surf, turf and vine.
It is hard to see local growers beating plowshares into swords, watching their crops of corn, snap peas, peas and beans of reluctant yields due to the absence of rain. “Aspetta per l’acqua,” dear farmer, as per the Gaiole proverb. Innocence seems lost at the hands of mother nature yet can you recall a more inviting time to drive up to the lake, fire up the grill, summon the inner chef inside and “let your inhibitions run wild?” Ontario’s cottage lakes are our French Rivieras, bringing about a Baudelaire call to mind of Luxe, calme et volupté.
Luck leads me to such a place, where great food is crafted and shared amongst family and friends. Here I play the part of the amanuensis, with a directive to relay and replay the food and wine exploits of the weekend.
The local field tomatoes are thus far of excellent quality, certainly 1000 times greater in flavour and acidity than what we reluctantly consume for most of the year. Coupled with Bocconcini and fresh Basil, they are like a rug that really ties the summer lunch room together. Fried Jasmine, Calrose Brown and Wild rice with a caramel, soy and sesame oil saucing helps to satisfy a crowd. The centrepiece at lunch are the Grilled Flatbreads. One is topped with roasted garlic, sauteed garlic scapes and fresh basil. The second with tomato, cheddar, Reggiano Parmesan and grilled zucchini.
1 tbsp dry active yeast
1 tbsp corn syrup
1/4 cup plus 3 cups all purpose, unbleached white flower
1/4 warm water, plus 2 cups tepid water
1 bulb fresh garlic
6 garlic scapes
1 bunch fresh basil
1 bunch fresh Italian Parsley
1 green and one yellow zucchini
1 large beefsteak tomato
1 cup grated white cheddar
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
Mix together yeast, corn syrup 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water in a large mixing bowl. Stir well and leave to incorporate for 15 minutes.
Cut off a thin layer off the top of the garlic to expose the bulbs. Drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil, wrap in foil and place inside the BBQ. Cook for 30 minutes.
Slice Zucchini into 1/2″ thick pieces, toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt & pepper and grill for three minutes on both sides.
Dice up scapes and saute in 1 tsp olive oil until dark green and tender.
Add the three cups of flour and 2 cups of water to the yeast mixture, mix, knead and form into a ball, dusting with more flour as necessary. Rub with 1 tbsp olive oil and cover bowl for 15 minutes.
Grate the cheeses, slice the tomato, wash and pick the basil and parsley.
Flour a work surface, turn out the dough and split into two pieces. Press out gently with fingers, brush tops with olive oil and grill for four minutes. Brush the exposed side, flip and grill again for four minutes. Remove from grill and turn down to lowest setting.
Top the first flat bread with roasted garlic, scapes, half the parmesan and basil. Top the second on one side with tomato, cheddar and parsley, the second with zucchini, parmesan and basil.
Return to grill and heat with the top down, two to three minutes. Serve with a knife and scissors.
Château La Tour De L’évêque Rosé 2010 (319392, $18.95) turns simple grilled fish into Baudroie à la Provençale and is consistent with an earlier note: Initiates a Strawberry response, of course. Subtle, faint pink tinge yet viscous, I could drink this by the bucketful. At once cloudy and then see through. “You thought that I would need a crystal ball to see right through the haze.” Could spot this one from a mile away. 88
Fish plays a big roll in summer cooking, along with many cuts of beef. Lean and flavourful Flank Steak often works itself into the rotation.
Charles Cimicky Reserve Shiraz 2002 ($35) harkens back to a 2005 VINTAGES release and at 10 years old it is singing. Causes a Buddy Holly “you…make…me…cry” stammer. A great Barossa vintage with foresight to predict longevity. That’ll be the day when the Cimicky’s dark cedar and menthol, hubristic and extracted fruit would not accelerate to greatness, live long and prosper. 93
Good to go!