In Summer You can Assemble Great Meals

When I brought my great white apricots to my friends on the east end of Long Island I also brought out some sensational cheeses, a wonderful, crusty loaf of bread, and some lomo, cured Spanish pork loin that is so satiny and flavorful it could give prosciutto de parma a run for its money.

In the middle of our third meal assembled from what I brought, my friend Tom said, "Man, we have eaten so well, and the great thing is we haven't done much cooking. All we did is assemble what Ed brought."

I guess that's my thing. I can cook all right, but I can assemble and forage better than just about anyone else I can think of.

Assembling in the summer in New York is easy. Our local fruits and vegetables are ready to be harvested, we get great West Coast stonefruit that if you look hard enough you can find tree-ripened juicy cherries, peaches, nectarines, and plums, there are so many first-rate cheese stores and departments around; and there is good bread to be had in virtually any big city in this country.

So here's what I've been using to assemble impromptu and delicious dinners:

1) lomo: That great Spanish pork loin that we served last weekend with quartered fresh figs. Fantastic!

2) Rare-Breed Smoked Ham: It's a slightly salty smoked ham that could go with a fresh melon or on a Balthazar baguette with a little French sweet butter.

3) French Feta: French Feta Cheese is flavorful, creamy, and much less salty than its Bulgarian or Greek counterparts. And there's no different brands to choose from. All French Feta is made by one company. Serve it with some vine-ripened tomatoes from the greenmarket. The tomatoes have been delicious this year.

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