For Les Madeleines’ Romina Rasmussen, throwing a summertime dinner party begins with a visit to the Farmers Market
It’s Salt Lake’s favorite celebration of summer. Foodies, friends and families gather at Pioneer Park Saturdays and Tuesday evenings to socialize, savor the weather and, of course, load up on fresh produce at the Downtown Farmers Market. Among these locavores are some of Utah’s top chefs, including Les Madeleines’ pastry pro, Romina Rasmussen.
Rasmussen hits the market focused and with a shopping list. “I actually prefer the Tuesday evening market in the late summer,” she says. “I’m usually in a hurry and like to avoid Saturday’s Labrador-and-latte crowds.” On this particular evening, Rasmussen is taking a break from the bustle of her downtown bakery and is marketing with a mission. She’s planning a small party, so as she chats with her favorite vendors, she caresses glossy tomatoes, breathes in the sweetness of fuzzy Utah peaches and scans bins for shiny, plump berries in preparation for her summertime menu.
Rasmussen heads home with a box of peaches and tote bags overflowing with fresh-picked loot. Rolling up her sleeves, she begins preparing “a loosely-inspired Spanish menu” built around sangria cocktails and seafood paella.
After hours of chopping, blending, sautéing and baking, Rasmussen greets her guests with a tray of sangrias. Behind her, a table set with fresh blooms and tableware from the hostess’ world travels invites guests to gather around. After toasting her friends, Rasmussen dishes up her traditional gazpacho. Next up, a beet and chèvre salad—her “go-to” summer salad—followed by a spectacular seafood paella. “I like to plan my menu with one wow-factor dish and everything else becomes the supporting actors,” Rasmussen says.
Toward the evening’s end, Rasmussen presents the grand finale: a straight-from-the-oven galette. Encircled by a browned crust, the free-formed tart oozes local fruit—fresh-picked peaches that only a short while before she bought at the Market. For Rasmussen, that makes it more than just a dessert. That makes it a taste of summer.
— Val Rasmussen
A well-executed trip to the farmers market can yield high returns. Find tips here.
In the (farmers) market for peaches? Find a peach galette recipe here.