When the weather gets extreme, I start justifying more splurges. Cold oysters on the half-shell and a glass of champagne? Mexican seafood cocktail? A margarita, or an icy milk tea with boba? The heat has me thinking my survival depends on such treats.
I headed over to Tempe for a random lunch (really, I just wanted an excuse to check out doodads and accessories at Urban Outfitters) and discovered that Red Mango — the Korean frozen yogurt chain that spawned the fro-yo frenzy, along with rival Pinkberry — just opened a shop on Mill Avenue. It says a lot about the frozen dessert biz when yet another spot opens on a street already populated with a few ice cream and yogurt joints.
Yogurt for lunch sounded perfectly reasonable.
I went for half plain tart, half pomegranate, and couldn’t resist a bunch of fresh fruit. And what were those kooky orange orbs that reminded me of fish roe, and those big sugary pink blobs? Mango boba, and candy-coated, bean-paste-filled mochi, respectively. Gotta love the Asian sensibilities when it comes to desserts.
After that, I figured something savory was also in order, and stopped by Canteen for some tacos. But a crab and citrus salad sounded so much more refreshing. I cleaned my plate.
Later on, at home, I tried to make good use of a fridge full of vegetables from McClendon. I threw a bunch of shishito peppers in a hot pan, neglected them for a few minutes so they’d blister, and then stirred them up with some honey and a squeeze of lemon juice. Don’t hot peppers cool you down? I’m not sure I believe that thinking, but the peppers were, in any case, really delicious. I compulsively ate a dozen of them, and then saved the rest for the next day.
At the same time I was cooking those, I had the rest of the vegetables roasting in the oven. No, it’s not fun to have the oven on these days, but I’m telling you, if you can push your A/C for one good hour, you’ll reap the rewards with a stockpile of stuff perfect for salads and for nibbling.
Raw vegetables are great, but they wilt so quickly in the heat. Meanwhile, chilled roasted beets, carrots, fennel, and peppers withstand hot weather because hey — they’ve already gone to 400 degrees and back again. I put together a platter of mine with the leftover shishito, and took it to a friend’s house for a pool party.
We also munched on a friend’s excellent rendition of the Original Chopped Salad that chef Bernie Kantak serves at Citizen Public house, which was made famous at Cowboy Ciao under the name Stetson Chopped Salad. Our version included regular corn, not dried, but that helped cool down the dish a bit and make it more succulent.