By Steve Anderson, Executive Chef of Northstar California
Late Summer: When I think late summer in North Lake Tahoe, I think of perfect warm weather during the day with cool nights, my girls getting back into their soccer games and school, and our group of Truckee families trying to squeeze in those last barbecues before Labor Day weekend.
When I’m late-summer grilling, I like to work in bold Southwestern grill flavors, chilled seafood and cold drinks. Nothing says summer to me like ceviche, a great starter while you are heating the grill and preparing dinner: Try a local mackinaw or rainbow trout with lime, chilies and mandarins—or salmon, hibiscus and grapefruit—served with a basket of salty chips. Pairing this course with a cool bottle of Frog’s Leap sauvignon blanc, along with iced-down Belgian-style ales from Truckee’s FiftyFifty Brewing Co., will keep guests happy.
We love to grill everything family-style for a cool Tahoe night on the deck: Like platters of chile-grilled strip steaks and shrimp with charred tomatillo salsa, corn grilled in the husk and served with crema and Parmesan (“elote”-style). Serve this with fresh herb- and olive-oil-drizzled grilled patty pan squash and sweet onions. Pair it all with a Louis M. Martini cabernet sauvignon or cold bottles of Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA.
One of my favorite late summer seasonal goodies in California is figs. There is no better way to finish off the evening than sitting out with some local fruit from Foothill Figs, goat cheese, honeycomb and lavosh. Or late summer stone fruit you marked off on the grill after dinner, maybe even with vanilla bean cremes brulees. Pair either dessert with a cool bottle of Frank Family Late Harvest Chardonnay.
Early Fall: Fall evenings in our cabin on Donner Lake mean the first fires of the season in the woodstove, family-style movie nights and easy dinners after work and school. We love the Crock-Pot for anything from pot roasts, chili or bean soups. These can be prepped the day before, thrown in the fridge, fired off in the Crock-Pot, and allowed to simmer slowly all day while you’re gone. Not only do you get to come home to a cabin that smells fantastic, but put out a simple spread of condiments, and you’re ready for a fantastic dinner and a night in front of the fire watching movies or playing board games.
One of our favorite Crock-Pot ingredients is yellow lentil. We like to add fall delicata or butternut squash, cherrywood smoked bacon, chard and herbs to this dish. Plus with a little cornbread, honey butter and a bottle of Rombauer Vineyards chardonnay—life couldn’t be better. Our favorite go-to dessert in fall is simple apple or pear crisps, with buttermilk ice cream or lemon thyme gelato, and a bottle of Merryvale Antigua (for us, not the kids).
CHEF ANDERSON is one of the participating chefs in the Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival, Sept. 8–10, at Northstar California Resort. “It reflects many of the flavors that make my family feel most at home in the Sierra,” says Anderson. “I like to think of it as an extension of my family kitchen.”