Summer Food-the long perspective
In my perfectly seasonal mind, Summer is 3 months long- beginning June 1 and ending on August 31. This means over the last 30 years living at Camont, I have had 2700 days of Summer… or nearly 7 and a half years of long days, warm nights, sunshine and summer storms, garden tomatoes, and flip flops for shoes. It also means I have baked dozens of tomato tartes, cooked kilos of fig barbecue sauce, and eaten enough fresh fruit from our own trees—white, yellow, and red peaches, summer pears, and yellow cherries—to satisfy a sultan.
Summer Food at Camont is the celebration of sharing an explosive bounty like a heavy basket of ripe tomatoes on my kitchen counter. We move outdoors for lunch and dinner, dodging the Golfe de Gascogne squalls as laundry moves on and off the line like mad clockwork with the summer storms. I think food taste differently outside, even when just a few steps from the kitchen. Wine and apéritifs flow like water from terra cotta carafes and the kitchen is a hive as friends join students and we cook together. Of course, I am the queen bee.
The surprise first heat of June is over and the mad July festival mania has climaxed. Now “August descends like a nap…” and Camont slows down a notch to savor the last 30 days of early sunrises, late sunsets, leaves plucked from the garden for dinner salads-a mix of roquette, laitue, amaranth, basil, mustard and scallions flourish under soft rain waterings. When students come in Summer, we don’t make confit de canard, we eat it; we don’t eat plum jam, we make it; peaches become clafoutis and are immortalized forever as summer at Camont; visiting friends bake cakes for friends as we share summer birthdays. Bakers, bake, artists paint, and musicians play Summer.
Summer Food is what is growing right now, outside your door, along a country road, at a village market. The goat’s cheese from Marie de Moncrabeau begs for ripening figs wrapped in a slice of home-cured ham; tomatoes jump into a pot for tourain de tomates; and golden eggs scramble themselves into a pan of duck fat for a breakfast-supper. This is not the time to fret over food, but create the meals you’ll dream about the last 2700 days of Winter. Some summer tomatoes in a jar opened in January will be a good reminder of why we live on the 45th parallel—perfectly four season living.
Le Club Camont—here’s a sweet and simple recipe that embodies the Summer Food ethos. A simple Club-ish sandwich made with what was at hand as we took a break in getting things down to discuss some new projects like a podcast that’s about french cooking with me. Kate Hill. Enjoy!
We’ve all eaten Club Sandwiches our whole lives- soggy bread, mushy tomatoes, bad bacon… So I took a look in the fridge and created a simple structure of something on the inside and something on the outside. Tomatoes are at their peak so they are the stars of the show; one slice inside, once slice on top. Ham, good ham, instead of the bacon; emmenthal cheese on both layers to help bind everything; and rich egg mayonnaise and good dijon mustard on each layer of bread. I served these small halves with some homemade bread and butter pickles. Just enough with a bottle of beer to serve for a quick working lunch.
toast the bread under the grill
put mayo on the bottom slice
a slice of ham folded to fit the bread
a slice of perfect tomato next
slab some hot mustard on the tomato
salt and pepper the tomato
a slice of emmenthal cheese
now the top piece of bread
some mayo on the top
another slice of tomato, slat & pepper
the last slice of cheese
back under the grill until perfect.
Sometimes done is better than perfect! These happened to be both.