Last Call for Summer: A Short Guide on Where to Enjoy the Fruits of a Dying Season
The fruits of summer at the Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market
While not-so-delicately sipping pea soup, topped with an aggressive layer of Parmesan foam, I knew it was over. With the arrival of fall equinox, J&G Steakhouse will soon rid its menu of any traces of warm weather, like this terrific soup and the watermelon salad.
I started to think about how, once again, I have to say goodbye to tomatoes and eggplants, cut-off shorts and abbreviated work days. I'm already equipped with a long cardigan for nights out.
While I'm sad to leave behind beach trips and unbearable heat, I'm not ready to say goodbye to melons, beans, and multi-colored peppers. Summer allows embarrassingly easy meatless meals. Throw your farmers market goodies on the grill. Serve with grains, crumbled feta, and a mustard-filled vinaigrette.
Coite Manuel of Food Chain, a supplier of barbecue and burritos — not Polish sausages disguised as half-smokes — to D.C.'s street vendors, understands that summer's bounty of fresh produce practically begs for vegetarian eating. His favorite dish is a childhood holdover: a summer pasta of fresh tomatoes and plenty of melted jack cheese.
Ris Lacoste, chef and owner of RIS, doesn't get out of her kitchen as much as she'd like, but she did enjoy "a lovely unctuous, silky eggplant gazpacho, garnished with cherry tomatoes, jalapeno and, of course, potato crisps, at Citronelle on Tuesday. All the vegetables tasted fresh from the market, just the way they should.”
"This summer I've been eating Sweetgreen's heirloom tomato salad which is delicious," gushed Alex Nicholson, who writes the laugh-out-loud food coverage at Brightest Young Things. "I like that salad because of the Parmesan crisp they crush into it." She's also quick to point out, "I make terrible salads."
Jonathan Neman, one of the guys behind Sweetgreen, assured me that although the tomato dish was August's featured salad, it will still be around all of September. And where does Neman find meatless pleasure?
"Spiced Peach Strudel: lemon-thyme panna cotta, popped blueberries and sweet corn ice cream from Birch and Barley. It's an amazing end of summer dessert. The sweet corn ice cream was surprisingly delicious. We're so used to eating corn in a savory dish so to have it in a sweet dish is such a pleasant surprise. Tiffany [MacIssac], the pastry chef, is a rockstar!"
The countdown is officially on. Find the last of your summer-filled meatless meals before the equinox brings in pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin soup, pumpkin beer, and pumpkin latte (which, wow, has already started according to Twitter).
Photo courtesy of Bennett Lipscomb