High temperatures and heat waves are beyond our control, but thankfully, there are plenty of ways to keep cool. Iced beverages, frozen desserts, chilled soups, crisp salads, and other cooling foods will do the trick. We asked some local food folks what they like to eat and drink when the temperatures soar. Ever sip a Pimm’s Cup? Eat lobster rolls by the ocean in Rockport? Make ceviche or taste guava sorbet? For refreshing ideas, read on.
If Peter McCarthy can’t be sailing, he says, “I want to be at the water’s edge and eating some local seafood.” McCarthy and his wife, Colleen, owners of Evoo Restaurant in Cambridge and Za in Cambridge and Arlington, savor family time with their children whenever possible. A favorite excursion is driving up to Rockport to eat at The Lobster Pool. “You can order lobster rolls and other seafood and sit outside by the water,” says McCarthy. The Rockport spot is BYOB. On hot days, beer is the chef’s beverage of choice, and his current go-to is Cloud Candy, a New England IPA from Waltham’s Mighty Squirrel.
For much-needed relaxation, Lise Holdorf likes to get away from her farm and have a picnic at White Pond in Concord with her husband and two daughters. The co-owner of Concord’s Barrett’s Mill Farm often whips up a batch of green gazpacho, a recipe adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s book, “Plenty.” She purees cucumber, celery, green pepper, basil, tender greens, jalapeno, almonds or walnuts, a little vinegar, and yogurt. “When it’s really hot, the soup is cold and very refreshing,” she says. “It’s not heavy, but it feels like a meal.” No surprise that her young girls don’t like it, so Holdorf orders them a pizza from nearby Rossini’s, which delivers directly to the pond. (A link to the Globe’s recipe for green gazpacho can be found here.)
Hot days require cool cocktails, and number one on Michele Stump’s list is a Pimm’s Cup. The executive director of East Meets West Catering in Boston has spent a lot of time in New Orleans; after hours walking around the French Quarter, she and her husband head to the Napoleon House for an icy Pimm’s Cup. “We go in when we’re really hot and tired and sit at the bar,” she says. “It’s always the same bartender.” The drink, made in a tall glass filled with ice, includes Pimm’s No. 1 (a gin-based liqueur), lemonade, a cucumber spear, and is topped off with 7UP. “It’s so good, not a boozy-boozy drink. It’s very light and refreshing,” she says.
As for perfect summertime wines, says Phil Minervino, “Everyone in the wine world will tout rose, but I prefer crisp, breezy whites that are uncomplicated.” He likes the bottle super-chilled so the outside beads when it sits on the table. The co-owner of Newton’s Lower Falls Wine Company recommends Chablis, whites from northern Italy, and Austrian Gruner Veltliner. He drinks them with “summer salads with ingredients sourced from Verrill [Farm] or seafood, nothing heavy.” He adds, “Summer can be a period of experimentation, a looser approach. With longer daylight hours, you can really enjoy the full measure of time and the meal and wine in all its glory.” If given the choice, Minervino would head to San Sebastian, his favorite summer destination. “It’s on the ocean, there’s swimming, siesta, and wine flows freely in Spain.”
“Ceviche.” That’s what Jared Auerbach, owner and CEO of Red’s Best, a Boston seafood business, wants to eat all summer long. “When I fish for fun on the weekends or whenever I don’t have to work, I fish for what’s easy to catch around here,” he says, naming black sea bass, striped bass, fluke, tuna, and scup. To make ceviche, he says, “I chop the fish into pieces, grab a lemon or lime, and then I chop up whatever is fresh in my garden and just throw it all in a bowl.” (The acidity of the citrus juice “cooks” the fish; there is no heat involved.) He likes to use bell and hot peppers, zucchini, radish, cilantro, parsley, red onion or chives. “I’m not a good cook, I just mix things together,” he says. “I’ll eat it one minute or up to three days after I make it. In my opinion, it stays good. That’s how I live in the summer.”
Cha Yen Thai Cookery in Watertown always has homemade ice creams on the menu. Customer favorites are Thai tea, coconut, and blueberry cream cheese. (Sprinkle some crumbled graham cracker on the latter and it’s as good as cheesecake.) This summer, owner Manita Bunnagitkarn experimented with guava, a fruit grown in her homeland of Thailand, and made a cooling guava sorbet. She’s used to eating white guava, but it’s the pink fruit (both have green skins) she received from Florida, hence her sorbet has a lovely pink hue. The fruit’s flavor is hard to pin down, but there’s a hint of apple and pear with tropical and floral notes. Bunnagitkarn added Moscato, a dessert wine, to the sorbet for a touch more sweetness and to help bring out the tropical flavor. “The sorbet is refreshing and will cool you down during a hot day,” she says. For a tasty meal before the icy dessert, she recommends the grilled salmon mango salad. “It’s a good dish, light, and pretty healthy.”
When Brian Wasik’s kids were little, he and his wife, Stefani, used to rent a house on the Cape for a week. “But we were more housebound than beach-bound,” he says, remembering when the kids barely lasted an hour in the hot sun and messy sand. Once back indoors, he says, “Cooking is always my go-to activity.” That’s when the co-owner of Wasik’s Cheese Shop in Wellesley created his favorite steak salad. “I grill two filet mignon steaks — cook it super rare — and then chill them overnight. Slice the steak thin when cold and then marinate it in olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, fresh ground black pepper, and lots of basil chiffonade.” Wasik lets the meat soak in the dressing for at least an hour in the fridge and then serves the steak and dressing over salad greens. “Add a generous sprinkling of good quality French feta,” says the cheesemonger. “It’s a cool, summer steak salad and the basil and lemon zest make it taste light and bright.”
Monica Rogan and her husband, Tom, owners of Goodnow Farms Chocolate in Sudbury, make some of the finest, award-winning dark chocolate around. So it’s not surprising that the company’s cocoa powder is a kitchen staple. All summer long, Monica and her young son and daughter use their shaved ice machine to make snow cones with fresh fruit juices. One day they decided to make chocolate snow cones. The trio heated one cup of heavy cream and just as it was starting to simmer they whisked in four tablespoons of Hot Cocoa mix (cocoa powder and organic sugar). It was too hot to pour over ice, so they refrigerated it for a few hours. When they retrieved it, the mixture had set to a mousse-like consistency. “It was chocolatey, creamy and cold. It was so good, we ate it by the spoonful,” says Rogan. They call their delicious accident “Chilly Chocolate.” Don’t tell the kids, but her secret treat is adding a spoonful to her morning coffee.
When Cheryl Straughter wants something cool and refreshing, she thinks of acai bowls. She has fond memories of trying her first bowl with her granddaughter Maya Soleil. “A few years ago my granddaughter was talking about acai bowls and I thought, how come I didn’t know about this?” says the chef and co-owner of Roxbury’s Soleil Restaurant (named after her granddaughter’s middle name). Straughter remembers loading her bowl with sliced strawberries, blueberries, banana, some peanut butter, and vanilla yogurt with the acai mixed in. (Acai, pronounced ah-sigh-EE, is a grape-like fruit of acai palm trees, native to Central and South America. It’s mostly available here as frozen puree, powder, or juice.) “It was so refreshing having this cold fruit bowl when it was so hot,” she says. Since then she’s made faux acai bowls with berries blended into vanilla yogurt and topped with fresh fruit. “You can make it and design it as your own,” she says. “It’s just having fun with food.” The chef has another summery tip: Freeze cut-up peaches and plums as well as strawberries and blueberries and use the fruit instead of ice in tea, lemonade, and wine for sangria.
Clinton Terry is a classically trained chef but his passion is cocktails. Come summer, the co-owner and beverage director of The Nautilus and Gaslight in Nantucket and the new Nautilus Pier 4 in Boston’s Seaport is drawn to light, effervescent beverages. “Spritzes are ultra-refreshing, rejuvenating, and have less alcohol,” he says. Always popular is an Aperol Spritz, a classic cocktail made with Aperol (an Italian bittersweet orange and herbal aperitif), sparkling wine, such as prosecco or cava, and soda water. Other styles include his “Macho-mosa,” a riff on mimosa, with blood orange juice, citrus vodka, cava, and soda, and a slightly smoky spritz with cucumber, lime, mint, and mezcal. “I like freshness and the seasonality of things,” he says. “Instead of putting culinary flavors on a plate, I put them in a glass.” Terry, originally from Vermont, spent 10 years on Nantucket. “I’m a picnic-sunset guy on the beach in Nantucket,” he says. In Boston, relaxing at his building’s rooftop pool in the Seaport will have to suffice.
There are many tasty and refreshing ideas here to choose from. Head to a nearby lake, ocean beach, or rocky cliff, rooftop pool, backyard deck, or restaurant patio and let these cooling foods and beverages provide some welcome relief.
Lisa Zwirn can be reached at email@example.com.
Lisa Zwirn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org