Riches of the Northwest ― a verdant backyard, aromatic Pinots, and a platter of local sausages, lamb, and produce.
"In summer, my backyard is an intimate outdoor room walled in a tangle of greenery," says Linda Wisner of Portland. The flowers, herbs, and vegetables ― including more than a dozen kinds of tomatoes ― form a natural backdrop for an alfresco dinner party.
Wisner and her brother, Darryl, harvest the late-summer treasures from that garden for this menu for eight ― basil and savory for tomato bruschetta, tarragon for a beurre blanc to set off delicate seafood timbales, nasturtiums for saffron rice, lemon verbena for an icy sherbet. And in keeping with the local-bounty theme, they offer Oregon wines.
But whether you snip the herbs and blooms yourself or fill a basket at a farmers' market, the message of this mixed grill is about the best of the season and the place. (And a good Pinot Noir from anywhere in the West would underline the theme.)
One to two weeks ahead: Make vin d'orange.
One day ahead: Toast baguette for bruschetta. Strain fruit from vin d'orange. Prepare seafood timbales through step 3. Rinse and crisp salad greens. Make chocolate-espresso torte and raspberry sauce.
Two hours ahead: Prepare tarragon beurre blanc through step 1. Marinate lamb chops for mixed grill and make marinade for nectarines. Prepare salad (through step 2).
The last hour: Prepare tomatoes for bruschetta. Bake timbales. Marinate nectarines for mixed grill. Finish beurre blanc.
Fifteen minutes before serving main course: Grill chops, sausages, and nectarines for mixed grill; cook beans and carrots.