Hvarska Gregada (Croatian Fish & Potato Stew)

Gregada at Robinson

Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!

Let’s have an adventure on a secret beach.  Okay, maybe it’s not a secret, I mean there’s a restaurant 2 steps away and someone else motored us to it, but no one else is here, so it feels secret!  Let’s bake under the sun and float in the clear, turquoise water.  When all of  that gets too exhausting, we can unwind in the shade with a carafe of white wine and eat an amazing fish lunch.

A Beach on Hvar, Croatia

Let’s pretend this day isn’t going to end.  We’ll sit and appreciate the breeze coming off the sea, the smell of pine trees and rosemary bushes.   We’ll admire sailboats in the distance and hunt for the smoothest, whitest pebbles.

But, sadly, the sun sets, perfect days always come to a close, and vacations have to end.  We’ll do what can though to bring the vacation feeling home.  I’ll look at the pictures and think about the clear water, the perfumed air, and, of course, I’ll remember the food.  I mean, come on, it’s me.

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Chilled Strawberry Soup with Vanilla Ice Cream

Strawberry Soup with Vanilla Ice CreamSummer always brings about lots of food memories.  There are so many tasty things that only come once a year and so many traditions that make me recall past years.  I’ll make a s’more over a campfire and remember the s’more I made last year (added peanut butter–oh, yeah!) and every s’more I shoved in my face as a kid.  I’ll see kids selling lemonade and remember the hundreds of summer afternoons I passed selling kool-aid on the corner with the neighbor boy.  I think back to summer vacations and remember the amazing lobster I ate in Maine or the spit-roasted pork I gorged on in Croatia.  I’ll pass a roadside stand selling home-grown, super ripe, red, glossy strawberries and think about all the times my mom packed me up in the station wagon and drove to the patch to pick pound after pound of berries.

And then I’ll remember the most epic trip I ever took to the berry patch, the trip that solidified my destiny to become obsessed with eating well.  It was also the trip that, twenty-some-odd years later, helped me come up for a name for my blog.

Sarah & Mommy at the Berry Patch

This berry-picking adventure is one of my earliest and most vivid childhood memories.  I was a chunky, bow-legged 3-year-old, dressed for action in my Osh-Kosh-B’Gosh flowered  shortie overalls.  My mom and dad packed me and my brother up into our old boat of a Chevy and we headed out to the country to load up on strawberries for freezer jam, shortcakes, and pink malts.  At some point in the journey, my parents informed me that it was okay to try a few berries as we picked, you know, test the product and make sure the berries were up to snuff.

Well, I know exactly which part of the instructions I tuned out–“a few”.  My mom, dad, and brother picked for hours, filling up pails and boxes.  And I picked right alongside, it’s just that none of my berries made it into my bucket.  Nope, they all went straight down the hatch.  Berry after berry.  Needless to say, the car ride home was not terribly pleasant.  Seems my 3-year-old belly couldn’t quite handle the gallon of berries I had so greedily eaten.  My mom rode in the backseat with me, stroking my tummy.   My big brother sat shot-gun, wishing he was still an only child, and my dad drove home in silence, thankful that his car upholstery was the same color as my ruby-red strawberry puke.

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Grilled Garlic Scape Hot Dogs

Grilled Garlic Scape Hot Dog

If I am remembered for contributing 1 dish to the food world, I’m rooting for my “scape-dog”.  Not only is the name punny and hilarious, it’s an awfully good way to enjoy 2 of summer’s best features: grilled hot dogs and zesty green garlic scapes.

Let’s go over the scape-dog’s history.  Last year was the first time I took the plunge at the farmer’s market and actually bought a bunch of garlic scapes.  I’d seen them, but I had never known exactly what they were or how they could be used.  They’re thin green stalks that grow up from a garlic bulb.  They pop out of the ground, twisting and curling until they end in what looks like a tightly closed, spindly flower.  Garlic scapes get snipped off in early summer so they don’t suck up all nutrients needed for the garlic bulb to grow large and plump.  They then get trucked off to farmer’s markets and end up in the hands of people like me that aren’t completely sure what to do next.

Garlic Scapes

I figured out what to do in a hurry though.  Turns out I liked them.  No, loved them.  I ate them sautéed, grilled, roasted, and raw.  I had them on pizza, with pasta, as a salad, and in eggs.  I bought bunch after bunch and started pushing them on friends and family.  When they were all but coming out my ears, I stumbled upon my favorite application for them: grilled and used as a hot dog garnish.  Oh, yeah, I’m talking a good charred dog with a smear of mustard and a few grilled scapes dancing out of the bun.  Just add a cold beer and a picnic table and it’s easy summer eating at its finest.

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