Summer Berry Love – Meringues et fruits de la saison

by Jenn on June 28, 2011

in Desserts,Gluten Free,No Cook,Photography

On the way to Simmenfälle

Now that Summer is in full swing, how do you beat the heat??

When it comes to food, I stay as far away from my oven and stove as possible – lots of salads, fresh fruit, anything we can do to not have to cook.  You know it’s funny, I never grew up with air conditioning.  But we lived in what essentially is a forest, and opened up windows on all sides of the house turning on the ceiling fans, and even on 90 degree days it wasn’t fun but it was bearable.  Then, in college and grad school I found air conditioning and became hopelessly spoiled.  When it was 100+ outside, I loved that it was only 80 inside.  What a magical device the A/C is!

And then we moved to Switzerland.  Where we live, there is none of la climatisation to be had.  We have a little fan, and with windows only on one side of our apartment, absolutely no air flow.  So on days like the past few we’ve been having, it gets warm.  The chocolate in our cupboards turns to a pile of goo.  We turn to a pile of goo.  The lake provides a great source of moisture for humidity, and the haze sets in while we all patiently (or not so much) wait for that predicted rain to fall.

Over the weekend, we decide to escape the heat of these lower elevations, and head into the Bernese Oberland in the village of Lenk.  From there a post-bus leads us to the foot of the gorgeous Simmenfälle waterfalls, and we decide a hike in the mists of the falls and the shade of the trees at about 1200m elevation seems like a great plan.  We start at the base of the falls:

Eventually the path turns into a small bridge which crosses over a loud rushing part of the chilled spring-fed water, and we stand in the sunshine letting the cool mist fall on our skin – ah refreshing!!


Now that, my friends, is the perfect way to deal with a crazy hot day :)

But what should we eat to stay cool????

Returning from our hike, we snacked on fresh local cherries and berries while waiting for the bus again, and managed to take a lovely air conditioned panoramic Goldenpass train back home to Vaud, admiring the lake and hazy Alps off in the distance in the comfort of our luxurious train car…

On the train to Montreux

Seriously, one of the nicest train rides I have ever been on in my entire time living en Suisse – who doesn’t want to spend 2 hrs looking outside admiring these views?

Love these panoramic trains!!

But then we return home, and are brought back whether we like it or not into the heat again.  Our warm apartment, that sticky humidity, all that “awesomeness” we were so happy to escape for the day… well it is Summer and we can’t escape the heat forever…

So when it comes time to make something to eat, the last thing we want to do is cook.  We explore salads, fresh produce, anything that we can do to eat cold meals.  Even make banana “ice cream“!

Fresh fruits of summer Banana ice "cream" with cherries

And we garnish everything with fresh fruit – cherries, blueberries, strawberries, currants….And while I love cherries (especially the Valasian ones), I really love the Swiss berries in season right now most –  fresh local berries are so rich with flavor, just like candy.  Sometimes we can’t help ourselves and they don’t last long enough to make anything with them.   Sometimes they just find themselves on top of yogurt for breakfast in the mornings. But when we can restrain ourselves a little bit, I’ve been incorporating them into nearly everything I’ve been making lately to celebrate their abundance.  Whether it’s a simple maceration to pull out their natural sweetness, or just layering them into chilled custards

Vanilla custard & fruit parfaits

From all the ways we’ve been enjoying Swiss fruits, I think my favorite so far is blending with another Swiss specialty I love – meringues de la gruyère, especially les meringues au vin cuit (yes, meringues made with wine!).  I’ve recently found that I don’t actually have to travel to Gruyères to get these fantastic cookies, but can find them at my local market which has been such a fun discovery.  Inspired by my friend Barbara who made a gorgeous affogato the other week, I decided to blend my love for coffee and dessert together in this dish.

Meringues au vin cuit with coffee & cream

It doesn’t really have a name, because I just combined things together that I loved – meringues, chilled espresso, cream, and fresh Summer berries.  One of the most refreshing desserts I have had in a long time, perfect for the heat.  We just take a spoon and mash it all up together, and enjoy.  I imagine this would also be great with double crème, though I haven’t been in the mood for something quite that heavy lately.  But for now, it’s cold, fresh, and flavorful.  And those berrries just make everything perfect :)

How are you staying cool in the hot Summer season?