A summer meal at the governor's mansion

When some people think of Memorial Day, their mind races to deals at big box stores, and commercials where men scream at you to come to their car dealership. The best of us actually acknowledge it as a remembrance of veterans we've lost.

The majority of us, however, will think upon it but then give in to base desires. Spring fever is real and we ache for sunshine and poolside grilling.

asparagus and potatoes on a tray

Stop me if you've heard this before, but I need a vacation. Memorial Day Weekend is the gateway drug to pool parties and sandcastles.  I do not go to car dealerships that the men in those commercials screamed at me about. I don't go for the wide screen TV for half off at Best Buy. I'm in summer mode.

This means fleeing town and being close to the water. Any kind of water. I want to soak up the sun's rays I've missed while hovering over my laptop. I want to taste summer. That means crackled, seared ribs on the grill, watermelon, and buttery ears of corn. But I'm always looking for new, inventive ways to get the most delicious version of summer.

strawberry pancakes

I recently attended a party at the governor's executive mansion. I put all politics aside because I wanted a peek. After all, my tax money paid for this soiree, and I fully intended to take advantage! 

As you might expect, it was gorgeous. But I'm here to talk about the spread. It was a celebration of summer. The trays were bursting with color and seasonal fruits

Deviled eggs are a summer staple, especially in the American South. But this party featured pickled deviled eggs, bright magenta from the pickled beet juice. It was beautiful. And instead of heavier, bread-based canapes you may be served in the winter, the hosts used sliced cucumber. It was refreshing, and topped with a dollop of smoked salmon spread. 


It's already strawberry season, so in addition to a spread of fresh strawberries, they laid out a tray of mini pancakes topped with a strawberry compote. And instead of being warm and soft, asparagus spears were bright green with a snap to them, served alongside a cool dip. So were sliced mini potatoes. They could be eaten alone or with the cold dip, like a deconstructed potato salad. 

Cubed cheese sat in a pretty silver bowl, but it was alongside a tower of fruit, which included a carved melon. Seasonal and juicy, people enjoyed the fruit and cheese together - a little sweet, a little salty. 


This Memorial Day Weekend, I will be upgrading my deviled eggs to pickled deviled eggs from a vibrant beet juice. I'll research strawberry recipes. My fruit won't come pre-sliced from one of those round-bento-like containers from the grocery store. I'll carve them and use toothpicks to stack the pieces into a sculptural rainbow of goodness. I can at least try. Or think of trying. Or write about it in this post. 

We go big on Memorial Day Weekend because we romanticize summer all year long. We forget about the humidity and dog days because the weather is gorgeous and beach vacations are just around the corner. Use that momentum to create seasonal, summery dishes. Peaches, corn, and watermelon won't ever taste better than they do at this time of year. May you have a delicious Memorial Day Weekend - you deserve it!


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