Sunday, August 26, 2012

Restaurant Week lunch at Summer Winter

Hey, look! She's blogging again! I know, it's been (checks) holy moly, a month since I last posted. Frankly, I just haven't felt like writing — or at least haven't had much to write about.

Treatment is going ... well, it's going. I've now had four cycles with The Bag, and will get an MRI in a couple of weeks to see whether The Lump is at a point that my scary-but-briliant radiation oncologist can start planning the "la-sers."

Meanwhile, apart from weekly hospital visits for treatment/music therapy/acupuncture/sandwiches, I've been spending most of my time at home. I'm not supposed to go out in the sun (chemo makes the skin especially susceptible to burning) so I mostly sit on my now-cozy porch to read, nap, drink protein shakes, nap, watch movies, and nap. I don't have much to complain about, but also nothing exciting to write about.

For the past two cycles, my chemo side effects have been greatly reduced. It's either the result of reducing the dose, or the benefits of weekly acupuncture, or both, but whatever the reason, I'm no longer spending four straight days on a liquid diet.

Which is why on Friday, instead of miserably inhaling cold soup though a straw, I was able to enjoy Restaurant Week lunch at Summer Winter in Burlington.

I went with my ladies-who-lunch friend Jean, with whom I'd visited Summer Winter for Restaurant Week last March. The highlight of that lunch had been the blueberry upside-down cake, the memory of which had lingered since. So when I saw it was part of the Resto Week menu this time, I was extremely happy.

We got a table along the wall of windows that look out onto Summer Winter's tiny patio and veggie garden. Here are their boxes of squash.

Unfortunately, we were also right next to the floor a/c vents, which meant we were in a chilly draft. Note to self: Next time, bring a wrap.

Summer Winter's garden and greenhouse mean they use fresh herbs in just about everything, including their cocktails. I really wanted to try one, but my mouth isn't quite ready for liquor yet. And I was interested to see what the bar was capable of. So when our first server asked if I wanted a drink, I asked if I could get a non-alcoholic something that used some of the same herbs as the booze versions. He said he'd see what he could do.

Meanwhile, food. First up, mini crab cakes.

It's easy to take a heavy hand to crab cakes; they can be dense and rich in a way that masks the delicate meat. These, however, were light, flaky, with a slight crispness to the batter.

They came with what the menu listed as "Mom's slaw," which again could have meant crudely sliced cabbage awash with mayo, but instead was almost translucent cabbage in a vinaigrette — a much more effective foil for the lightly creamy crabby patties.

Jean ordered the gazpacho. I didn't try it (sometimes, even tomato is a little too acidic for my still-healing mouth) but she said it was delicious. Certainly looked it.

Gazpacho, Summer Winter

For my main, I went with cavatelli with roast corn and lobster.

Grilling corn really brings out the flavor; every mouthful tasted like summer. The lobster was sweet and fresh. The only thing that didn't totally work was the queso fresco topping; it neither melted nor crumbled into the dish, but instead sat and waited to be eaten in two lumps.

(Not that I have a problem eating lumps of cheese, you understand; but once they were gone, they were gone.)

Jean had the planked haddock, which came with jasmine rice and a sauce we couldn't decipher (dill? Fennel?) but which turned out to be tarragon and mustard. Good fish and a nice presentation.

Halfway through, our main server came to check in. I asked about the mocktail, which still hadn't shown up.

"Oh," he said, "that other guy wasn't your server. He probably didn't put the order in."

Oookayyy ... then maybe he shouldn't have asked what I wanted to drink?

Anyway, I explained again what I was looking for — something that took advantage of Summer Winter's herb crop — and he disappeared, returning soon after with a highball of this:

It had, let's see: basil, mint, lavender, lemon geranium, lime, lemon, and blueberries, finished with soda water. He said it was a take on the restaurant's vodka-based blueberry lime rickey, to which he added a couple of things.

It was refreshing, aromatic, and complex; a perfect summer drink.

I'd probably have been quite happy with that as dessert, but there was more to come. Both Jean and I had the long-awaited blueberry upside-down cake.

Looking back at last year's Restaurant Week lunch at Summer Winter, I realize the dessert is almost exactly the same. Last time, it came with ice cream, while this year the accompaniment was cinnamon-infused whipped cream (a nice complement to the blueberries). I thought it was more lemony last year, but Jean said this one also had a good note of lemon, so it's possible my dented taste buds just weren't getting it.

Either way, it was still good enough that, as I did last year, I decided I needed to make my own at home. There are wild organic Maine blueberries sitting in the fridge right now, and this time I'm actually going to follow through with the plan.

Which means I might not wait a whole month before I post again.

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Blogger Michael Buller said...

This makes me simultaneously hungry and not looking forward to my boring dinner tonight. The upside-down cake looks incredible -- actually, it all does.
Glad to read you again.

5:35 PM  

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