Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Just Peachy

The New York Times Quotation of the Day last Thursday stopped me in my sweaty tracks: "The key to a good peach is a hot night. What makes it miserable for humans makes it perfect for peaches." -Will McGehee, a Georgia peach grower.

No air conditioners in my house, just fans. Sleeping comfortably has been … challenge. But when I read this my perspective changed. My suffering suddenly seemed connected to a higher purpose that promised rewards, big rewards. Because after all, is there anything better than biting into the sweet yellow flesh of a fresh ripe peach, so full of juice that it runs down your arm? If the oven-like conditions of our bedroom were somehow part of the natural chain of events that was producing an amazing crop of peaches, then my clammy tossing and turning doesn’t seem quite so bad.

Peaches have begun showing up at area farmers markets. And the ones we’ve been eating leave no doubt in my mind that the prize is worth the price. They’re absolutely incredible. We have many chefs in town who make it their business to use seasonal local produce, and I started wondering what they’re doing with this bounty. I tossed the question out into the social media stream and some mouthwatering responses washed up on my digital shores. photo by Barney Taxel, Taxel Image Group

-Heather Haviland is putting peach-strawberry compote on waffles at Lucky’s CafĂ©.
-At Americano, Vytauras Sasnauskas plans to be making tomato peach gazpacho, tomato peach burata salad and a grilled local pork chop with peach mostarda.
- Jennifer Plank of Greenhouse Tavern told me they’re bringing back bacon-wrapped peaches soaked in Agra dolce and served with white onion soubise. She also mentioned “dabbling” in a saffron tart with braised endive and peach with a bitter caramel.
- For Washington Place Bistro, Jonathan Guest is doing a peach jalapeno barbecue on St Louis-style ribs with creamed Ohio sweet corn.

I was really excited to hear that Brandt Evans is canning them so the rest of us can enjoy them at Pura Vida when the season is long past. If you’re tempted to do the same, or maybe make some pies and cobblers or jars of jam and chutney, consider planning a picking day at Scenic Ridge Farm near Wooster to get your main ingredient. It belongs to the Bauman family, who have been farming in the region since 1929. There are 3,500 peach trees, about 25 different varieties, among them Redhavens, White Ladies, Starfires, John Boys and Contenders. Take home a few pounds or a bushel basket full. It’s as pretty place, with a hilltop view of 84 acres of farmland, and visitors are welcome to picnic.

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