Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Supper

Remember Sunday supper at grandma's? If you were lucky enough to experience it, you're doubtless left with memories to last a lifetime. I recall grandma's special baked chicken (somehow no one else seems to be able to make it quite the same), green beans, mashed potatoes, and fruit salad, with berry cobbler for dessert. Swedish rye bread made according to the family recipe was served on the side, for no dinner could be complete without bread on the table.
Another great thing about Sunday dinner at grandma's (well, besides the company, of course)? Mom didn't have to cook! At least, I assume that must have been a blessing. As much as I love to cook, it's nice to let someone else take charge occasionally. And after a very full weekend, the prospect of Sunday supper at Volunteer Park Cafe may not have quite the same allure as grandma's, but it sure sounded good.

Fortunately for us, it tasted even better than it sounded. Light poured in through the open door onto the long communal table that runs the length of the cafe where Michael, Lewissa, and I took our seats. For Seattle, it had been a hot day - over 80 degrees! - but the evening warmth was pleasant, comfortable enough for me to wear the long-sleeved shirt I'd chosen to cover my newly sunburnt arms. Refreshed with beer, wine, and citrus agave water, we eyed the blackboard list of coming courses.

The idea behind the Sunday supper is a simple one: use what's in season, food from the garden, and serve it up family style. With a couple of musicians providing a low key soundtrack for the meal, we passed around giant enamel pots of salad, then meatloaf with onion gravy, silken mashed potatoes, and green beans. This was food that would no doubt have felt right at home on grandma's table, although it was admittedly a bit gussied up compared with the dinners I remember from childhood. The vegetarian offering was sweet pea risotto, something that never appeared at the grandparents' house, but the pop of fresh green peas amid creamy rice topped with succulent pea vines and a lemony, melt-in-you-mouth creamy cheese brought the taste of summer home.

After all that, it was hard to find room for dessert, but somehow we managed. Still warm from the oven, we received slices of golden-crusted blueberry buttermilk pie. The buttermilk custard lent a soft tang to the sweetness of the berries, and the crust was perfectly crisp and buttery. Pie is the ultimate in summer desserts, and a good Sunday supper is the ultimate end to a perfect summer weekend.

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