I believe this would be appropriately termed an embarrassment of riches. I've had a simply lovely week of being a pampered houseguest in not one, but two extraordinarily beautiful historic homes in Virginia. As though that wasn't incredible enough, both visits were with people I dearly love and involved most of my favorite things--talking, walking, laughing, swimming, cooking and eating. Sheer bliss in every way that I can possibly imagine. To guild the proverbial lily, I returned home to find everything going berserk in my garden(as you can see from these lilies) and then, this morning, at the farmer's market.
This massive profusion of all this bliss was almost overwhelmingme so I dealt in the best way I know how....I decided to make some gazpacho.
The thing about making gazpacho I've found, is that not only does it completely celebrate the mighty bounty of ripe vegetables that mean summer in Virginia--at least to me-- but there's something soothing and almost zen-inducing in the rhythm of all that chopping. I found it the perfect activity to enable me to synthesise all that I've seen, felt, heard and tasted this week. Chop the tomatoes....mull over the massive lightning strike that exploded that dear old tree at Bois Dore. Chop some cucumbers and relive the wonder of Strother's cheese souffle. Chop chives and parsley, while remembering laughing until my stomach hurt, fireworks, hiking next to the canal and up the mountain, and most importantly, connecting with all of my lovely friends and having the luxury of time to just be together.
At the end of all of that chopping, what a gift....summer in a bowl, liberally seasoned with the happiness that only grows during time spent with friends. The most delicious elixir imaginable.
These amounts are only approximate and should be liberally toyed with to accommodate what you have at hand. Do not forego the tarragon vinegar however--it's the secret ingredient! I usually double if not quadruple this recipe, as it keeps well for several days and is addictive.
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
2 tablespoons flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup tarragon vinegar
3 cups tomato juice
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups chopped fresh Hanover tomatoes
1 1/4 cups chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped cucumber (I use an English cucumber and remove the seeds)
2 ears of corn, kernels removed and steamed or 1 cup frozen corn, lightly cooked.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (optional)
Mix all ingredients and refrigerate for at least three hours to allow the flavors to meld. Serve icy cold.