I spent a few desperate hours in Berlin last year. I was wet and cold and miserable the whole time because of poor planning. It rained so hard I ended up wandering the aisles of Primark at Alexanderplatz looking for an umbrella. I also got an “I love Berlin” tote from Primark, which gives me a chuckle now when I tote it around.
The most memorable part of the trip was a conversation with a complete stranger. We met a woman at the airport’s train station, who turned out to be blessing in helping us navigate the Berlin subway. She’d come from Dublin to join an anti-TTIP protest (free trade agreement between EU & US). Naturally, we chatted; for a long while actually, even when it came time to part ways, we stood on the platform talking. Somewhere between the impact of GMO foods and the fairy tales fountain at Volkspark, wheat came up; she grinds her own flour from wheat berries and I mentioned I make a mean chickpea wheat berry salad and breakfast.
I feel like this happens every time this year, and yet it always takes me by surprise. And by this, I don’t mean this summery strawberry rhubarb simple syrup. Rather, it’s this sudden realization that we’re smack in the middle of summer, when really, it feels like summer just started. I haven’t even started on my summer plans yet; and I had so many of them. I remember back in march, walking along the seawall on a rare summer-like day and listing off all the things I was going to do come summer.
This weekend we have the fireworks and Pride, all this for me means that summer is winding down.
August is for getting in the last of our summer activities. Weekend getaways and hot road trips, picnics by the water, Island hopping and quiet afternoon hikes, and lazy evenings on the balcony drinking fruity cocktails.
This pesto right here, and the bounty of fresh produce currently at the farmers’ market is one of the reasons why I’m holding out hope that this summer will be awesome. So far, we’ve had a kind of summer my mom calls wishy-washy, with emphasis on the washy. It’s rained regularly the past couple of weekends – it feels like that’s a thing now.
A few years ago, we started this tradition of going to our local farmers’ market on rainy summer weekend mornings, it’s just a block away. We’d try spontaneity and make lunch or dinner entirely from the items we bought.
We slept in one wet morning a couple of weekends ago, then still in our pajama bottoms, strolled over to the market to pick up whatever called to us, and then we made lunch.
We got those new potatoes with delicate skin, tomatoes, red onions, strawberries and nectarines. We also got some fragrant fresh basil and curly green tangles of flowering garlic stalks to make this basil garlic scape pesto.
I feel silly saying this now, but for years I’d been a little unenthusiastic about visiting the Palace of Versailles. I knew it was magnificent; I’d heard its grandeur was unlike anything I’d seen before. Yet tales of its splendour were usually tempered with woes of endless queues, overcrowded halls and expensive food. Even getting there sounded cumbersome, you had to take the RER C (with its dizzying map), but look for a distinct train with a specific terminus and be sure to get off the right Versailles station.
On the flight to Paris last year, I sat next to a couple who were doing the Paris to Versailles run that weekend, and with a few hours of in-flight persuasion and a promise of picnicking by the water, I was finally convinced to visit Versailles.
Summer is my favourite time at the market. There’s this air of rejuvenation with all those colourful produce packed stalls. It’s glorious! I feel like I waited all year to get my hands on luscious berries, stone fruits and melons; no other season inspires such delight. We go to a market on a farm out in Richmond, their selection of local fruit and vegetables in the summer is incredible – we always come home with a bounty of delicious fresh produce.
I went berry picking a few weekends ago too and got a ton of strawberries and some raspberries. We made pie that weekend, and some juicy strawberry sauce to spoon over our yoghurt and desserts. Then are those many lazy afternoons we all sit on the balcony just snacking on summer fruits. I also make a lot of crisp and crumble desserts during this season – at least one a week. It’s a simple straightforward way to use seasonal fruit, and you get a pretty good dessert too!
The filling is usually standard fare, chopped fruit, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch. I’m always trying to change up the topping though… hence this coconut flour summer fruit crumble.