White peach juice dripping down your chin, the burst of fresh raspberries in your mouth, fleshy figs falling from trees – summer makes for a sensory explosion of sweetness and flavours, and we've asked six people from various arms of the food industry to share their favourites with us.
Mangoes and Nectarines
Ben Whittaker, Owner, The Final Step cafe, South Yarra
Both these fruits are tasting amazing at the moment. Just last week my sister made a mango, raspberry and coconut cake. The enjoyment of the mango in this cake is threefold: the sweetness, with ever-so slight sourness adds to the overall flavour; the juiciness gives the cake moisture; and the texture the mango gives the cake is delicious. In saying this, the mango in the cake is interchangeable with the nectarine as they both offer similar qualities.
Simone Moss, Co-owner Threefold Cafe, CBD
You know it's summer when you're sucking on a white peach. With their downy, velvety exterior and lush delicate flesh, they always feel a little bit decadent. Boozy peaches are a treat – bellini's, daiquiris, or poached in moscato with vanilla and thyme and bottled in a beautiful jar, they make great Christmas pressies.
Peaches satiate both sweet and savoury moods – grilled on the barbeque and tossed with some delicious porky bits, green beans and burrata, or stuffed with crushed amaretti biscuits, dates, butter and a splash of marsala and baked. Or just keep it simple: bend forward and scoff with glee. If the juice isn't running down your chin, you're not doing it right.
Alison Peake, President, Slow Food Melbourne
With summer finally showing its face, if only sporadically, it is time to think of fresh light offerings from the Farmers’ Market.
I am challenging myself to try new ideas and flavours and to tackle learning what to do with some of the weirder heritage vegetables that our producers turn up with.
Kohlrabi salad with a ginger and rice vinegar dressing should be just the go and I am looking forward to trialling lots of different heritage tomatoes as they come into season. Getting ready for Christmas and summer barbeques, I am going to make up the Victorian Farmers Market Association Homemade Cordial Competition winner of Asha’s rosemary and thyme infused cordial which should make a fabulous mocktail with a stick of cucumber and lashings of ice.
Paul Cooper, Head Chef, O'Connell's, South Melbourne
Of all the beautiful summer fruit and vegetables available, it’s very hard to go past the humble raspberry for a taste of summer. Picked fresh, it’s one of the greatest delights in the world. It goes well with many things, but I love it paired with lemon curd or another summer favourite, passionfruit curd. I remember the surprise when I was first handed a raspberry filled with passionfruit curd, the sweet and acidic interplay in the mouth was so refreshing. Just give me a big bowl!
It’s such a versatile fruit; it can be eaten fresh, macerated, puréed, put into custard, even made into a soup. The options are limited only by imagination. As the season gets on, and raspberries become more abundant, I always make a big batch of jam to see me through the rest of the year, and to get a little taste of summer all year round.
Note: Honourable mention must go to tomatoes and radishes.
John Ford, Marine Scientist and Presenter on Radio Marinara 3RRR
Oh, the humble mullet. Is there any more Australian a fish? Dismissed by my grandmother as too oily and fishy, loved by myself for precisely the same reasons. It is a fish that doesn’t pull punches – it is what it is, bold and intense and perfect for summer. Strong seasonal flavours like tomato and basil accompany it perfectly. Mullet is best done whole, barbequed or grilled with the skin charred and crisp. Roasted cherry tomatoes on the side are perfection. Or panfry some fillets with a pesto, chermoula or lots and lots of lemon. And beer – it’s the best fish to match with beer out there. It’s also a sustainable choice – with abundant stocks and caught by non-destructive fishing methods – so look for yelloweye mullet out of Port Phillip Bay or the Coorong, or sea mullet out of Lakes Entrance.
Figs are a beautiful, versatile summer fruit that you can use in both savoury and sweet dishes, or simply enjoyed on their own. We have our own fig trees that we love to pick, just as the sun ripens them to splitting point. The texture is amazing. A favourite recipe is sweet lavender curd with figs. The fresh curd is very versatile cheese. It can easily be both sweet and savoury and made with a variety of milks and rennets. It matches the figs – drizzled with just a touch of honey – perfectly.