Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Don't let it slip you by, pt. 1

Yes, it is the summer of 2012.  And, yes, it's important to not let this summer (or any other) slip you by, especially when you live in a nordic country.*

red, white, black, & rosé fig. a:  preparations were made

If you don't have the means to get out of town:  eat al fresco as much as possible, and if you can do so in the proximity of an outdoor ping pong table, all the better.  You'll have to bring your own paddles (BYOP), as well as your own table tennis balls, and you may have to wait your turn (God knows outdoor ping pong has its dedicated followers), but if you pack yourself a nice picnic and you lubricate the proceedings with a sufficient amount of chilled whites and rosés, you'll find the results most agreeable.  You may want to bring your pétanque set to amuse yourself during intermissions, but this step is purely optional.  You may also want to bring your swimsuit--there may very well be a pool nearby to help you beat the heat.**

Recommended meal:  salade niçoise with a crusty loaf of bread + tomato and ricotta tartinades.

Recommended bottle:  Thymiopoulos Vineyards' 2011 rosé de xinomavro

Basic Salade Niçoise*** 
height-of-season salad greens
height-of-season tomatoes
high-quality olive-oil-packed tuna
high-quality olives of your choosing, like picholines
hard-boiled eggs
gently poached green beans, preferably those French-style skinny ones
boiled new potatoes
extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper 
Make sure your green beans have been poached to perfection.  They should crisp-tender.  Make sure your potatoes are boiled just-so.  You don't want them mushy.  You can use the same pot of boiling water for both, but, for heaven's sake, don't cook them at the same time.
Assemble the salads on your plates out of the first seven ingredients listed above.  Dress each salad individually by eye and/or according to taste.  Salt and pepper each salad as you wish. 
Tomato and Ricotta Tartinades 
fresh ricotta
height-of-season tomatoes
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper 
Tear off pieces of a crusty baguette.  Split them in two.  Slather them with ricotta.  Top them with slices of tomato or halved cherry tomatoes.  Dress with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
You've eaten and drunk well.  You've worked up a mild sweat playing ping pong.  Haven't you done enough?  Take yourself out for ice cream, perhaps after a dip in the pool.


* Formerly nordic?  

** You can find all three of these features (the outdoor ping pong tables, the pétanque courts, and the swimming pool) at Parc Laurier in the Laurier Village neighborhood of Montreal.  On weekday evenings, admission to the pool is FREE.

*** The true salade niçoise is a hotly debated topic in some parts of the world.  This version puts an emphasis on ease and immediacy over authenticity, while insisting on the best of ingredients.  Now is the time!

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