Monday, May 01, 2006

Rituals of Summer

It's here! The brilliant sunshine, the long days...gosh, if I didn't know better I'd say summer has arrived here in San Francisco. Oh, I know, I know--soon it will be foggy and cold in the evening (that's a Bay Area July for you) but for now I'll just take what I can get.

Summer has its own set of rituals, its own rules. Growing up, one of our summer routines was to go to Tozier's restaurant, in Bethel, Vermont, on the hottest days of the year. It would be too hot to cook, too hot to move, so we'd pile into the car and drive across the mountain to the restaurant my mom went when she was a girl. I love, love, love Tozier's. It is a low-slung, pine-paneled restaurant with long wooden tables and paper placemats that list Vermont attractions in green ink. On those hot days they have some tall old-fashioned fans circulating the air, but it stays cool because the restaurant is under a grove of trees near a little brook. They serve water in little waxed paper cones set into sturdy metal bases, and hot dogs on well-buttered buns, and fried clams. And outside, next to the main restaurant, there's a walk up counter where you can get ice cream cones and hot fudge sundaes. It is the perfect August restaurant. Just perfect.

But a different venue calls for a different routine. While we haven't yet found our favorite seaside seafood shack, and there don't seem to be any pine-paneled brook-side restaurants here in San Francisco, we did make the most of yesterday's sunshine. After a day planting in the backyard (beans, tomatoes, herbs, flowers...but more on that next post) we started up the grill, opened some cold Mexican beer and grilled some pizzas. Grilling the crust gives it the delicious blackened bits that you can't get in your oven (even if you have a pizza stone and the oven is cranked up all the way, filling the house with smoke) and it's great fun to assemble a platter of toppings so everyone can customize their pie. After the pizza, when the sun was still high enough to warm us and the coals had died down to a nice, slow burn, we toasted marshmallows and made S'Mores, and I had the wonderful pleasure of introducing our English neighborhood to the very American treat. Her quote? "Well, I like these very much indeed. They're quite good." Perhaps the start of a new summer routine?

No comments: