Summer waits for no one. In the midst of all our worrying about COVID-19, the season has flown right by us. Already we’re hearing faint whispers of pumpkin spice and autumnal brews, leaf peeping and bumpy hayrides. With Labor Day now in the rear-view mirror, there’s just a little time left before we cross the border into fall.
So let’s pause and take that final breath or two of summertime, by savoring those dishes that best exemplify everything there is to appreciate about the season. Meditate on a bed of gorgeously grilled tiger figs from Longoven ($12), with striped green jackets and purple-red flesh so resplendent and sweet. The figs are nested around a pink rosebud of prosciutto, caressed in a salty, tangy seafoam of blended whey and koji rice. Enjoy all this and a moment of reflection on the restaurant’s lush garden patio.
Go on and embrace the summer spirit while you still can with Adarra’s selection of conservas (tinned seafood) from northwest Spain. Hear those imaginary waves crash against the Atlantic coastline as you peck like a shorebird at a bowl of Galician clams ($13). The clams’ natural flavors intensify from a long and luxurious bath in their own sweetly briny juices. Spoon them over potato chips with a zesty splish-splash of Tabasco — a combination that is pure bliss.
As the summer months come to a close, so does the all-too-fleeting window for precious stone fruits. Don’t miss your chance to savor the breeziness of a summer salad from Brenner Pass of soft, grilled peaches at their absolute ripest ($12), interspersed with radiant green and yellow heirlooms and strewn atop the most decadent of whipped ricottas. Crispy fried shallots and tiny leaflets of basil are sprinkled throughout for added grace notes of sweet-savory.
Or spend just one more balmy summer evening on the porch with Miss Laura Lee herself and some crostini of sliced nectarines, sitting pretty over crusty sourdough ($6). The crostini, spread thick with a mortar of mild ricotta, get a little dolled up with crushed pistachios and bitter microgreens. But the nectarines, which are seasonably bright, fruity and floral, remain the belle of the ball.
Hang on to the happiest feelings of summer for a moment longer — the very same ones you had as a kid — with a tomato hand pie from Little Cat Bakery ($7), Alewife sous chef Amanda Sanders’ weekend pop-up. Each rounded pie dons a decorative braided crown. Somewhere between an empanada and a turnover, these tender-flaky pouches come piping hot, deliciously salty and chock-full of end-of-season Hanover tomatoes and ooey-gooey cheese.
And for the last time this year, behold the season’s bounteous fields and gardens as you cut into Grisette’s tomato tart ($14). An envelope of rustic galette crust contains a heartfelt love letter from chef Donnie Glass to the summer, inscribed with peak-season tomatoes, fresh sheep’s milk ricotta, as well as thyme, oregano and other herbs from Glass’ garden. The juiciness of the tomatoes, the grassiness of the ricotta and the savoriness of the herbs burst forth with every bite like the final glimmers of summer sun.
This particular summer may be one we’ll prefer to forget for the most part. The least we can do before the season ends is to find a few things worth remembering — memories of all the sumptuous fare this summer has brought us and will bring us again this time next year, hopefully in a world much better, healthier and happier than the one we’re living in right now.
Justin Lo writes freelance reviews for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram @justinsjlo.