If you are Mary, at dawn you don your sunhat and amble down to the chicken coop for fresh eggs, pull a few egg-sized potatoes from the earth, cut some lettuce (several exotic varieties), cut nasturtiums, shiso, mint (a mild one), and pick tomatoes warming in the morning sun. With a can of tuna, a few boiled eggs, some anchovies and some olives, your lunch will be an unbeatable salade niçoise ready in 10 minutes.
Since Mary swims a mile every morning except on the days when she climbs rocks, dessert, like swimming, is always an option exercised. In July she served a gooseberry pie that was the most delicious fruit pie Mr. Henry ever tasted.
Mary mixes fresh gooseberries (various colors, stems pinched away) with diced lemon peel and a tablespoon each of sugar and flour. In the refrigerator, dough mixed the night before lies nicely chilled in a ball, ready to roll. She bakes in a convection oven until the fruit bubbles up, and lets stand a few hours so the liquor congeals. Mmmmm.
The only accompaniment to such delectation is the greatest and most reliable American dessert, our one true locus of national culinary pride, the perfect choice, the universal dessert donor. Mr. Henry is speaking of the ultimate frozen custard -– Haagen-Dasz vanilla – not the 1/2 calorie one, mind you, but the buttery original. He has sampled ice creams across the globe. Although Italians boast justifiably of their gelatos, their vanilla can’t compare. Ben & Jerry’s is fun for the kids or to share on a date, but again, their vanilla lacks the creamy mouth feel, the umami, of Haagen-Dasz.
But of the several attempts by family and friends to overcome the oppressive heat here in New York, none bested Arielle’s Bellini in a bowl, a sublime and sublimely simple concoction of peaches and sauvignon blanc.
Peel ripe peaches and, leaving them whole, cover generously with sauvignon blanc or, indeed, any white wine at hand, ideally the one you are serving for dinner. Chill them for a few hours, slice into sections and place them in individual bowls. The chilled fruit in its chilled bowl will bring your dinner to a climax of icy cool.
Need Mr. Henry suggest a scoop of vanilla with that?