seasonal ingredients Archives - Page 2 of 5 - Please The Palate
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I love basil. I love the aroma of fresh basil on a margarita pizza, on top of a caprese salad, in a pesto sauce or in a Thai dish. But never did I realize how many types of basil exist, more than forty varieties! Leave it to Maude, who picked basil as the featured ingredient for the July tasting menu. Holy basil, cinnamon basil, lettuce basil, sweet basil, lemon basil, Lesbos basil, opal basil, African blue basil and more, each has its own appearance and aroma. And we were in for a treat with the Maude July menu! Two of us sat down for dinner and as we waited for our dining companions, wine director Kevin Caravelli poured us a small glass of Domaine Julie Benau Picpoul de Pinet “Cuvée Libero” 2015 from Languedoc France. What is really cool about this crisp mineral-driven wine is that is it aged in barrels underwater. The delicate fresh wine was a perfect start to a meal that would also be fresh and delicate.
I like cucumbers. What is not to like about cucumbers, those long crunchy green members of the fruit family who are related to gourds and melon? Cucumbers add a refreshing crunch to our salads, they are a fat-free conduit for dips and they are wonderful to infuse in water. Cucumbers are also very healthy, fight inflammation, freshen breath, full of vitamins that manage stress and help digestive health. But other than putting them on a crudite plate, in a water glass or on top of your eyes after a long night, are cucumbers really that interesting in flavor? In Maude's June menu, cucumbers were the featured ingredient. As I reached out to friends to join me, many seemed unexcited by the featured ingredient. They wondered aloud, jokingly, if the meal would be cucumber crudite, tzatziki, raita and cucumber water. In general, I heard a few tell me they did not think it would be very interesting. Boy did those friends miss out! The team at Maude proved how diverse cucumbers are with a menu that was one of the best so far this year! As we sat down for our meal, we were surprised with a bottle of Champagne Aubry Brut Rose that was a gift for one of my companions for her birthday.  As we toasted the birthday girl and enjoyed our first sips, the first two bites of the night were served.