It’s hot in New York City. As I write this now, it’s 87°F (dele, now it’s 92°), the same temperature it was when I went to bed last night. It’s so hot I just might (and this is a big deal) overcome a mortal fear and take the bus to work. Yes, that’s hot!
So, how do you beat this kind of heat? Walk very slowly in the shade, drink lots of water, watch old movies, read a book, put a bag of frozen peas on your neck, try to leave work by 5pm (since they turn the AC off at that time, but I never get to leave work before 5pm, so then I sit and boil), eat lots of salads and cold soups.
On Saturday I talked the boy into going over to Boerum Hill in Brooklyn to watch the Bastille Day petanque tournament on Smith Street. I promised him lunch at our favorite restaurant, sweaty Frenchmen and cheap wine. Yeah, none of that happened. Our favorite restaurant was closed for renovations and the petanque tournament was on Sunday. Doh!
On the subway ride home we decided that the best way to salvage the day was with a fabulous dinner, Cold Almond Soup. I was SO excited to make this because it meant that I could finally squirt almonds! I never thought I’d get to indulge in this activity because to be quite honest, I don’t really like nuts of any stripe. Luckily with enough olive oil and garlic applied in the proper way, I do like nuts.
We stopped off at the best new place in the Lower East Side; Formaggio Kitchen (actually, is’s a tie for b.n.p.i.t.l.e.s. between Formaggio Kitchen and Saxelby Cheesemongers). Max, the seriously knowledgeable manager hooked us up with some delicious cheese for snacks and a bottle of gorgeous sherry vinegar from Andalucia (they have huge vats of vinegar and olive oil that you can decant into your own pretty bottle for $1 off!)
Next we bopped over to Economy Candy for some almonds. I couldn’t remember what kind of almonds this recipe took so we got some plain and some roasted. Turns out we only needed plain. (The boy had this soup once about a year ago at the lovely Uovo. We looked up recipes at that time so I was working from memory on this soup).
I think it was the memory of that meal at Uovo that inspired one of the garnishes for this soup which is traditionally served with halved red grapes (or maybe I just wanted to play with fruit some more). The chef at Uovo is a wizard with pickles. One time, he sent my fish out garnished with pickled summer squash, another time we went for the deep fried pickle (I loved, boy hated).
In crafting this soup, I was afraid to make the vinegar taste too intense, so I figured the pickled melon would be a good way of controlling that. And then well, who can say no to garlicky fried bread crumbs, and well, why not just gild the lily and season them with the saffron salt lurking in my pantry? Saffron’s just as Spanish as Ajo blanco, even if one is a peasant food and the other a treat of the bourgeoisie, who says they can’t get along?
And get along they did. Let me just say that this soup was just as beautiful in the mouth as it is in pictures. This is a wonderful, impressive dish for a swanky summertime dinner party, and it’s pretty darn cheap to make too!
Head below the jump for the recipes for this delicious soup and its gilding garnishes.