Thursday, July 22, 2010

Looking for the warm

In the midst of an unseasonably cool July in Berkeley, I enjoyed hearing one of my authors grumble about the oppressive heat he was enduring as he dispatched map corrections from his temporary Istanbul "office," the Abracadabra Cafe. No doubt over a glass over iced mint tea. Hmpf.

I can do nothing but feel sorry for myself and Sophie as we blast through the fog on our motorscooter to summer camp on what would otherwise be an enjoyable and scenic ride through Tilden Park, over Grizzly Peak, and down Strawberry Canyon. At least I can fantasize after dropping her off about opening my thermos of steaming coffee in my office as I buzz past the crawling lines of minivans. But I'm further chilled when I think of Sophie, whose first activity of the day is water polo. Brrr.

But when it's cold and foggy in the coastal bay area, it's usually hot as Hades inland, which means, among other things, one of my favorite summer foods makes its appearance:

Padron peppers!

Tossed in a little olive oil, charred in a cast iron skillet, and sprinkled with a course salt, they are positively addictive.

What I particularly love about them is that they have slightly smoky pepper taste, usually without the heat. I emphasize usually: A friend and I shared a plate of these at a local tapas bar, and half way through I got one that . . . was . . . not . . . mild . . . at all. I was in tears for several minutes, waving my hands frantically at my mouth, saved only by the tequila gimlet I had thankfully also ordered. The chance of getting a sneaky hot padon increases as they are harvested later in the summer, so if you're a heat wimp like me, eat up now!

And stay warm. Or cool. Wherever you are.

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