Sunday, July 02, 2006

Blackberries, Tomatoes, Zucchini - It's Summer

You can call me a purist - please. This morning while walking my dog Bear, I picked my first ripe blackberry and ate it. While it wasn't the sweetest or tastiest blackberry I've ever eaten, it was remarkably delicious just because it was there for my picking.

A few days ago my friend Patrick picked 2 Costata Romanesco squash from his garden and gave them to me. What a wonderful gift. I took the smaller of the two and made a simple dish of it by cutting it into half-moon pieces with one half a sliced torpedo onion and adding it to my little packet of Thai Kitchen Garlic and Vegetable Instant Rice Noodle Soup in the last minute of cooking. A few shots of my sister Donna's hot sauce and it was an easy dinner. If I had some chopped cilantro and cubed tofu to add, it would have been even better but that's life. still yummy as it was.

Yesterday I bought my first of the season locally grown vine ripe tomatoes. It's still early here and if I am lucky I may have ripe tomatoes by mid-August but only if the weather heats up a bit.

The food that Mothe Nature provides is just the best. Last night my husband and I went to a store with an incredible salad bar (Oliver's market in Cotati, CA). Rick ordered a veggie burrito while I heaped the salad into one of their fancy paper-like containers. In addition to the usual salad bar options there were many others such as shredded Mexican chicken, marinated tofu, lentil salad, quinoa, Asian noodle salad, Creole potato salad and much more. About two thirds of what I took was greens, carrots, cucumbers, red and green onions and then I went for the adidtions. At $6.99 a pound, I managed to take almost a pound of salad. It cost more than the burrito but salad, especially the greens, is essential and delicious food which our bodies crave.

I have been reminded of this more and more as I travel. Because between my trips I have found it more difficult to get the oomph to shop and cook. This means more restaurant meals. In the past week I have eaten at Cafe Zazzle in Petaluma (CA) where they serve some incredibly tasty Zazzle slaw for $2 for a large bowl. I keep thinking that the cabbage and other veggies contained therein can make up for the creamy dressing. But the food at Zazzle if fresh, delicious and mostly less than $10. I recommend it.

A bit less successful was a trip to a new Middle Eastern restaurant, Pita Cafe, in Rohnert Park. My son Shane said that his rice pilaf was the best he'd ever had, and the salad served with his dish (lamb schwarma - YUCK) was plentiful and fresh. I had the mezze plate with whole wheat pita (for which they get extra credit) but nothing really was outstanding nor was it terrible. There was tabbouleh, hummus, dolma, felafel, mummarah, baba ganouj. I am not sure what didn't work but I was not wowed. It seemd like Middle Eastern food for the Mid-Western palate which isn't to my liking. I wanted to taste some exotic spices - sumac, zatar, cumin, a little cayenne. It was missing zing. Maybe the rice pilaf had it but Shane didn't offer any to me. I'd try the place again since they just opened but this time was just OK (which is about 2 stars out of 5).

I am excited by the foods of summer and I am anxiously awaiting my own cucumbers and tomatoes and more of Mother Nature's marvels.


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ryry13 said...

I love your blog and I was so excited to see you had written about Pita Cafe, which I have fallen in love with! I was so suprised to hear a negative response to the place my friends and I rave about. You should definatly try them out again! I suggest the eggplant wrap, it is addicting!