Saturday, August 11, 2007

Life in the Feast Lane

Every Saturday during the summer, well into the fall, and throughout most of the year, my main focus for the day is usually food. Between visiting the farmers' market, cooking for the week, and, during the harvest season, preserving produce, I'm pretty single-minded for my Saturday activities.

But today, I think I even surpassed myself.

The Innkeeper decided to take a much-needed vacation this weekend as her summer frenzy winds down, so I agreed to help with breakfast for her nine guests, working for my first time beside the Bistro Chef. Since I didn't need to bake anything, I arrived early to set the table, prepare the fruit salads, and get things ready to set out just before breakfast time. And when the Chef arrived, I had everything under control so that I could stand ready to help him out as needed.

We laid out a lavish meal for the guests, starting with chocolate chip scones and the fruit salad, loaded with strawberries, red and green grapes, nectarines, and apples and drizzled with a orange-maple-cream syrup. The next course included a luscious nectarine clafouti made by the Innkeeper, sausage, and fresh whole wheat-blueberry pancakes with warm local maple syrup. During periodic visits to the dining room to refill the coffee pots, I collected the praises for the meal and relayed them to the Chef, who was more than happy to share the glory.

When we wrapped up our morning, having closed out guests' bills, set the dining room to rights, washed dishes, and packed away the leftovers, I made sure that the Chef took the remaining nectarine clafouti home with him. You see, when I visited the Innkeeper yesterday to get my orders for the weekend, she also sent me home with my own clafouti, filled with fresh blueberries and blackberries from her home garden:

Along with a pint of cherry tomatoes, a big bundle of fresh basil, a few sprigs of mint, and a handful of hot chili peppers, I considered this to be more than ample payment for my work!

Since we cleaned up earlier than expected from breakfast, I had plenty of time to wander down to the farmers' market and to fill my basket with more good food:

--tomatoes from the Cheerful Lady's daughter;
--more Ruby Red popcorn from the Corn Queen;
--mixed cherry and other small tomatoes, plus two large bulbs of garlic from the Sheep Lady;
--a bag of red potatoes from the Potato Lady;
--four quarts of tomatoes, two pints of okra, two pints of cherry tomatoes, a pint of poblano chiles, and a purple basil plant from the Gentleman Farmer's Wife;
--a quart of Red Haven peaches and a bag of elderberries from the sweet older couple, back for the first time this year;
--and a basket of Niagara grapes from the local orchard.

Yes, an abundance of tomatoes went home with me as I hope to do more preserving at some point this week (though perhaps not this weekend; we'll see), so you're likely to hear more about that later. The elderberries went into the freezer for my Dear Papa, and the Niagara grapes made a lovely pink juice (more on that when I finish the process).

So much food! So much good flavor and fresh produce!

So... anyone want to cook for me? I'm beat!


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