Summer is a three-month symphony that nature offers up to celebrate the beauty of the world – she gives of herself to us color and flavor, changing the tones through each movement. In the beginning, the berries punctuate the markets and then also my breakfast. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, currants, oh how I love them all. I almost think the produce alone could make summer my most treasured season. But now we are nearing the end (as the fresh chanterelles cue us to the soon-approaching Autumn, less than a month away!) and it’s worth appreciating the current chorus of tomatoes, peaches, and plums. This meal is to enjoy those tomatoes and chanterelles, marrying Summer and Autumn together in an easy one-dish dinner.
But don’t worry, I’m not completely moving onto pumpkins and apple pies just yet, there is still some Summer left to enjoy! My favorite part of the season? Getting to spend warm sunny days with friends on a mountainside looking at the largest glacier in Europe. One can only hike the Aletsch Glacier hike during the warmest months, when the weather is fairest. We started our hike after a cable car ride that made us feel like we were floating in the air over the hillside and dropped us off at the top of Eggishorn, at 2900 m.
From there, one could look out over the edge of the trail marker dotted mountainside and see the Aletsch Glacier pouring down into the valley below. The brisk 8C air seems surreal compared to how warm it was when we first entered the cable car.
Descending some 600m elevation encountering some “friends” on our path….
We made our way down to the glacier’s edge. It’s amazing how it can be 25C outside with the bright sun radiating upon our soon to be sunburnt skin, us sweating in our t-shirts, and yet there is a giant block of ice towering over us, radiating a refreshing cool air as we sit on a rock snacking on some cheese and cured meats, admiring the enormity of such a thing and listening to the rushing water from below.
Only summer can bring us such an amazing opportunity. In the Winter, the lower villages transform into ski resorts and the hiking trails become impassable. We continue along around the mountain, seeing ever-more breathtaking views of the ice. How soon it looks so small again!
Each turn I pause, stop, and take a breath of the crisp mountain air. My mind is clear and constantly in awe at all around me. Look, the Matterhorn!
Finally, the last long descent, to finish at 1900m elevation, a thousand meters below our starting point (but it sure seems easier than hiking from the other direction, eh?). The light is starting to glow on the hillsides in the way that only early evening does as we arrive to our cable-car exit from what seems like a fantasy land.
One could easily see why the Summer’s rich bounty of garden delights alone would make it a favorite season of mine. However, growing up in the Northeast US, I used to be all about the Autumn. And there is still a very big place in my heart for the maple syrup, pumpkin pancakes, squash soup and the Whites. But here, in Switzerland, it is the opportunity to go out and experience such indescribable beauty that makes Summer now win my affections.
Maybe I will change my mind as we enter our first Fall in Europe, but for now, Summer you steal my heart. I’m not quite ready to let you go, so I cook simple things that highlight your tastiest jewels. Like this pasta. Tomatoes as rich as meat, and yet I crave like a child craves candy spotted in a window at the local chocolaterie. Nothing complicated, just a reminder to appreciate Summer while it is still here.
A note on this picture: I made two bowls of pasta, as I usually do. The one at the top is the pretty styled version, which is what I usually eat so that my husband can have the hot dish when we are eating a “future blog post” for dinner. But it’s worth showing what non-styled looks like, so that’s what this picture is – ugly tablecloth, everything all mixed in together, lovely IKEA silverware. It may not be as pretty as the top version, but it’s the same pasta. Just as delicious
Ingredients (for 2 servings):
4 oz. pasta (or gluten free pasta) of your choice
2 tbs. your favorite pesto
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of fresh chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned & rinsed
A handful fresh basil
4 stem tomatoes, largely chopped
Your favorite cheese, sliced
salt & pepper if desired
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Once drained, stir in the pesto.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet and add olive oil. Saute the chanterelles until softened and browned a bit.
3. Add mushrooms, fresh basil, and tomatoes to the pasta. Serve and top with slices of your favorite cheese and salt & pepper if needed.