Come summer, New York becomes a city out of a science fiction novel, its citizens shut in for fear of the gaseous atmospheric conditions outside. Halfway down the block, you feel something strange: the shirt you put on this morning becomes a wet, sticky, second skin, and the head you woke up with begins to sweat like the glass of a cold cocktail left out in the sun, although these droplets are hot and salty and sting the eyes. And so we chain ourselves to our air conditioners.
New York is denser than a ball of rubber bands. The only available space is the sky; people are packed atop and wound around one another, and that’s only half the story. As involved is the world below the pavement: pipes, subways, cords, wires, and so on. The result is a world wrapped around itself, trapped in its population and structures, totally unfit for summer heat, which is why I seem to take several showers a day.
Scattered within this map are particularly unpleasant, flaring hot spots. Such as Chinatown. Chinatown in the summer is a throwback, a piece of the city untouched by urban planners and whoever sits around thinking of mixed spaces and bike lanes. The only thing mixed here is the air, a soupy whiff of hot kitchens, sweating fish, and sweating people. However, Chinatown is the cherry zone: street vendors sell bags of cherries at prices so cheap I suspect something nefarious. But as long as I get my cherries…
Cherries may be about sunshine and middle America and pie and cute towns, but to me, cherries are about Chinatown in the summer, and threading my way on my bike, through the streets and the humidity to grab my bags of cherries. This is a truncated menu using cherries; raise a glass to Chinatown and New York in the summer.
Mustard Crusted Salmon w/ Cherries
4 salmon fillets, 6 oz each, skinless
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs
1 shallot, minced
2 cups red wine
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups cherries, halved
2 tablespoons cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper
- Season each fillet lightly with salt and pepper, spread one side of each fillet with a thin coating of mustard and sprinkle over bread crumbs. Reserve.
- For the sauce, in a small saucepan, sauté shallots in 1 tablespoon of the butter until soft, add the balsamic vinegar, wine, and half the cherries, mashing them as they soften, and reduce to a few tablespoons, then whisk in the cream and butter. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, stir in remaining cherries, season, and reserve.
- Heat a broiler and broil the fish, coated side up, until medium rare, about 6 minutes.
- Heat sauce, stir in some parsley, spoon some of the sauce including the cherries, on a plate, and top with the salmon.
Makes 1 tart
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoon flour
¼ c sugar
2 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons kirsch
1 ½ pounds cherries, pitted
1 cup milk
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 375. Butter a 10-inch clafoutis dish and fill with cherries. Set aside.
- Sift flour and salt together into a bowl. Add sugar. Whisk in eggs, egg yolks, milk, and cream. Add vanilla and kirsch; whisk to combine.
- Strain batter over the cherries, bake until puffed and browned, about 45 minutes. Let cool until warm, dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.
Cherries and Cream
2 pounds cherries, pitted and halved
2 cups heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
1. Place cherries and cream in separate bowls.