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I have enjoyed thirty-six meals at Maude over the past four years and while every menu has been very good, with some dishes being great, a few months have just been a home-run with each and every bite being as good, if not better, than the last one. September's melon menu is one of those months. Melon is a quintessential summer ingredient. With the bitter-sweetness of summer ending, the sweetness of the melon was a perfect ingredient to feature. A relative of the cucumber, summer melons include cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon, as well as many others. Maude explained on their website that "summer melons include those with a raised cross-hatched pattern or netting on the rind. The Charentais variety is characterized by the green ribs on the rind. Its tender, apricot-orange interior and gorgeous fragrance, make it the perfect dessert melon. Muskmelons are known as cantaloupe in the U.S. Their pale orange flesh is juicy and sweet. The Galia is a honeydew-cantaloupe cross. Spherical and small, the creamy, light green flesh is spicy-sweet. The Ambrosia is a hybrid muskmelon with a highly-perfumed scent, best enjoyed fresh. The popular Spanish variety, Piel de Sapo, has a rough, dark green exterior and crisp flesh and pairs well with salty, smoked meats. And we'd be remiss to exclude the watermelon, the largest of the melons. Barrel-shaped with bright, pink flesh, which can also be yellow or white." For this menu, we decided to do the wine pairing created by the Maude team. And, like most meals at Maude, we started with champagne - Vazart-Coquart Brut Reserve Blanc de Blancs Champagne.
I love peaches and look forward to the summer when they are fresh and juicy. I purchase them each week to put in a salad, a smoothie or just eat as a snack. Of course, when Maude declared peach the featured ingredient for the month of August, I looked forward in anticipation. Peaches are more than yellow and white peaches. Per the Maude website, it explained that "there are both clingstone and freestone varieties of the fruit, indicating whether the flesh adheres to the pit. Likewise, there are white and yellow-fleshed varieties. The Red Baron, with its firm and juicy yellow flesh can be enjoyed fresh and cooked. The Rich Lady is popular for desserts and ice cream. The Donut, named for its sunken middle appearance, is mildly sweet with a hint of almonds and is perfect for salsas or halved then grilled. Nectarines are a variety of peach but are distinguished by their smooth skin and sharper flavor." As we sat down for dinner, we began with glasses of Bruno Gobillard Ma Sophie Rose Champagne, a lovely Champagne with aromas of strawberry and raspberry and beautiful acidity. As we enjoyed the Champagne, the first few bites came out. There was the delicate dried thyme and peach hush puppies, the heavenly bourbon peach beignets and the extraordinary chicken skins which were so thin and crispy with a layer of peach marmalade in between. 
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.