Thursday, August 27, 2009

orange, best served chilled in August

gazpacho chilled in a ceramic tureen

heirloom yellow and red tomatoes

One of my favorite soups in the summer is home made gazpacho. A cold tomato soup, that I had first in East Hampton, NY in 1975. I was a driver for a Broadway producer named Myron Sanft; 40 years my senior and very gay with his big round tortoise rimmed glasses. I was hired to drive Mr. Sanft, to the Hamptons while his partner was doing summer stock theater in New Hampshire. Myron didn't like driving and living alone so I was his driver and companion all that summer. When we were in East Hampton we went to beach in the mornings then shopping for fresh foods in town arriving home before the heat of the day arrived. His cozy single story, three bedroom bungalow was on the bay side of long island tucked in the shady bay side woods, it was always very comfortable during the heat of the day. I spent afternoons swinging in his huge rope hammock reading and writing letters or walking down by the bay. Guests came almost every week from the hot noisy city to enjoy Myron's beach house and I was there to help entertain them as well as help out with some of the chores of entertaining. I learned some new ways to prepare food that summer. Myron had very distinct tastes and ideas about fresh food ingredients hence he insisted on daily shopping trips. I learned to stuff and grill whole fresh caught fish, something I had never eaten before. My first experience with gazpacho came when some of Myron's friends who lived in Spain came to visit for a whole week. I have forgotten their names but the husband stayed home alone one day to make us this special meal while we swam and sunned on the beach. He told me it was a cold tomato soup, I thought to myself," oh boy, that doesn't sound like much of a meal with no meats" but I politely keep my thoughts to myself. Later when we returned from our full day on the beach I became a total gazpacho devotee. His mysterious cold soup was GREAT and I at 19 asked endless questions about the process he used to prepare this meal I thought was so very delicious. Now looking back it seems to me most of the preparation was carefully cutting all the various garnishing ingredients and chilling the strained tomato juice and pulp (seeds and skins mysteriously vanished). He gave us bowls and let us add our own garnish to suit our preferences, as he said they do in Spain, of green peppers, cucumbers, toasted croutons, green onions and freshly ground black pepper.
Recently, I came across four very different gazpacho recipes in Martha Stewart Living magazine and decided that I wanted to try the yellow/orange gazpacho with boiled egg and crouton garnish instead of the recommended Serrano ham. On my birthday last week I used a few pounds of yellow heirloom tomatoes and a single red tomato and grated them down with seedless cucumber and a clove of fresh garlic, red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, salt and fresh ground black pepper into the lovely home made gazpacho. Keith had a dozen organic farm eggs with orange yokes I boiled to garnish the soup for my birthday dinner. He made us a great delicacy of bison marinated charcoal grilled flank steak and provided my favorite frangipane pear/almond tart for my fifty fourth birthday.
I made this yellow-orange gazpacho again this week to take back out to share with Mom because I took her Living magazine for the recipe and we decided it tastes a little better when a little less chilled if you are inside with air conditioning rather than on a steamy East Hampton veranda. These pictures are in our tiny kitchen posed with a couple of spare tomatoes in my favorite hand made ceramic soup tureen before I set it aside to chill.
All these years later, when nearly everyone has heard of and tasted some sort of gazpacho, I know that it is a great treat when made authentically with the freshest local ingredients thanks to my first experience with Myron Sanft's house guest who spent an entire day preparing my original gazpacho dinner. I also found out back then he had time while the soup's ingredients chilled to read the NY Times cover to cover in the shade on that relaxing in the tied rope hammock so it couldn't have been too difficult.


Keith said...

Your best gazpacho ever! Can't wait for the green gazpacho,yum!

Frederick said...

Myron Sanft: Broadway Industrial show producer describes his shows for Milliken in this NY Mag. article called the Breakfast Show now on Google book, copy and past this to see the link:

Anonymous said...

Hi Frederick – I just sent you a Facebook message. I now own the very house you describe living in in the summer of 75! Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post about it, and the description still applies (except I don't spend as much time swimming and sunning as you seemed to, and certainly no hammock lying – I'm too busy gardening and renovating). Love to hear from you and find out whether you have any photos of the house from back in the day. I have a blog too, on which you can see lots of photos of how the house looks now. Please be in touch. Best, Cara Greenberg