Summer lovin'

My God. Do I ever love summer. Real summer that is. The kind where days are like walls of heat, the sun burns into your skin, and gin-and-tonics are necessary for survival. When nights are balmy, sweet breezes set the bedroom curtains fluttering, and gangs of freshly free high school kids prowl the streets. This kind of summer finally arrived in Victoria a couple weeks ago.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.  I haven't been here much because I've been out there, relishing it all. I've been swimming in dark, narrow, rushing river channels, suntanning (while being pelleted with sand) on city beaches, sleeping outside in tree forts (a bit chilly in the morning, and what an early morning!).

Let's not forget u-picking! I went with Patrick and Emily (who has a most excellent blog you should surely check out) and we picked mountains of strawberries. Something about fields full of plump, beaming berries brings out the greed in me. I brought home 10lbs of fruit. When you can't even fit most of your regular groceries into the fridge (of epically small proportions) it's certainly a challenge to also squeeze in heaps of  almost-past-the-point-of-ripeness strawberries. Suffice to say, I made three different kinds of jam, a batch of ice cream and some strawberry dumplings (for breakfast) in just three days before I felt like the situation was under control. It was actually exhausting, quite frankly, but once it was done, I celebrated in the sun!

Ashley, Gracie and I had the first picnic of Summer, proper. It was past seven o'clock, we were all in skirts and dresses and bare arms and it was hot. I was warm, warm, warm! Oh, I just want to lay in those words all day long! We had cool beer and Ashley made a smashing salad with cucumber, nectarine, avocado, some just-plucked-from-the-backyard romaine, and a raspberry dressing. There was a Tunisian eggplant frittata that we sandwiched into hunks of baguette spread with harissa. Gracie had her own baguette.

Then, oh then, we had dessert.

I know Ashley and I know she loves pavlova. Inspired by my bounty of berries and the Middle Eastern leanings of our picnic, I made a pistachio meringue cake. It hardly took an ounce of effort but it looked fantastic, and tasted fabulous as well. Crunchy, then chewy, then melting meringue; soft, decadent mascarpone cream and sweet, ripe strawberries perfumed with just a hint of rosewater. Oh yeah.

So get thee here and try the recipe. I followed it pretty much as it was written, although I did divide the recipe by three and thus made smaller meringues. It feed two women and one two-year-old amply with leftovers (divine, cold for breakfast).

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