It's hot as, well, a hot place today...a really, really hot place. Steamy and blazing out there...but the gardens are happy, both my new community-garden plot and the little fire escape wonderland. Three kinds of basil are lush and fantastically scented just outside my window, and the much-maligned tomato plant has now hit its stride, with more than thirty little grape tomatoes hanging greenly off its branches. In the new plot, purple basil, rosemary, lavender, nasturtiums, blue salvia, dusty miller, sunflower seedlings (which popped up in less than a week from a scattering of seeds), lemon balm, and a little cluster of blue balloon flowers. Best of all, the pepper plant that got broken in transit has rebounded. Instead of being a sad little three-leaved stump, as it was when I planted it with little hope, it's now burgeoning, lusty and just short, with tons of new leaves and flower buds everywhere.
My local farmers market at Borough Hall has undergone a similar transformation in the last few weeks. Before I left, it was lettuce and strawberries and a few hothouse tomatoes; all of sudden, the tables are covered in field grown Jersey beefsteak tomatoes and ripe peaches and corn, corn, corn. Had a juicy ear just raw for lunch, with a plate of sea-salted chopped tomatoes...mmmm. Eat more raw corn, I say!
Spent the weekend being a Fresh Air Fund child, thanks to several friends living out of the city and my, it was fun. A giant golden moon rose through the trees on Friday night, challenged only by the sporadic twinkling of the fireflies. In the morning we went berry picking at Solebury Orchards in New Hope, PA--enormous blackberries, blueberries, and a few handfuls of red currants and raspberries. Right now, 10 cups of blackberries are sitting in my fridge, waiting to become jam, although the thought of boiling anything, especially a whole lot of sticky fruit and sugar, fills me with dread.
Then up to Boscobel, to picnic al fresco and see a lovely open-air production of The Tempest. If there's a better place to be on a summer evening than sitting in the grass overlooking the river with old friends and a glass of prosecco to hand, I haven't found it.
The next morning: Ladybug cocktails, scrambled eggs with piperade, and mascarpone-nectarine tart. (Did I mention that Susie did all the cooking? The rest of us just sat around admiring the dog and drinking quart after quart of cold seltzer). I could live on those Ladybugs alone, a kind of sunset-pink granita/slush made from pureed frozen watermelon chunks, vodka, lime rind, lime juice, and sugar. The key is the frozen watermelon, which gives the drink a marvelous sorbet-ish consistency. And of course, you could leave out the vodka and just slush around in it all day long.
Finally, last night--Sicilian cooking at Diane's, with heavenly caponata, smoked sea bass over potatoes and favas, eggplant parmigiana and almond-kissed apricots. Recipes to follow...