The feel-good food hits of summer

Pork katsu sando at Sando Bar, Surry Hills.
Pork katsu sando at Sando Bar, Surry Hills. Photo: James Brickwood

Summer! It's here! Time for cricket and barbecues and burning your feet on the asphalt of beachside car parks. Here are 10 excellent things the Good Food team is excited about enjoying over the next three next months. (It should go without saying that fish and chips and riesling are essential, too.) 

Amaro spritz

The amaro spritz is this summer's hottest way to refresh. Tall, dark, herbaceous and low in alcohol, it's the ideal sipper for lazy afternoons when you want to keep things civilised. Make it with soda, prosecco and Italian classics such as Montenegro or Cynar, or try a new Australian amaro in the mix for local measure. Applewood's riberry-based Okar is a noble choice.

Burrata

Creamy knots of burrata feature on every second cafe menu in 2019, but the best place to enjoy its milky spoils is at home, where you can really get stuck in. Make that cheese best mates with grilled bread and stone fruit and share it with someone you really like.

Love Cans, a ready-to-drink collaboration between Strangelove and Poor Tom's distillery.
Love Cans, a ready-to-drink collaboration between Strangelove and Poor Tom's distillery. Photo: Supplied

Guindillas on everything

Pickled guindilla peppers give life to everything they touch. Mortadella plate looking flabby? Whack a few guindillas on there. Bruschetta a bit bland? Bam. Guindillas. Brandade in need of a pick-me-up? You know what will help it? Yeah, that's right. Guindillas. The cornichon of a new generation. 

Katsu sandos

Last holiday season I declared the mini sausage roll was the ultimate party snack, able to be eaten in two to three bites with no cutlery. While I'm still fond of a snag roll (especially homemade with harissa), Japan's katsu sando has won my heart in the handheld savoury stakes this year. Made with your choice of chicken or pork, the hunky sangers will move quicker than Cheezels at a backyard barbie, due in no small part to the power of Kewpie mayo.

Lambrusco

Lambrusco knows how to PAR-TAY. Juicy, vivacious, fizzy and fun, the Italian red makes for a killer aperitif and gets along just as well with Christmas turkey as it does an ice bucket by the pool. Bypass the cloying bottom-shelf stuff and source real deal gear from Emilia-Romagna winemakers such as Paltrinieri.

Love Cans 

What's this? A ready-to-drink booze tin that's actually drinkable? The soda champions at Strangelove have partnered with Poor Toms distillery to bring us Love Cans just in time for summer. There's a gin-and-tonic with notes of grapefruit, a negroni-inspired spritz and, personal favourite, a yuzu and vodka number that's essentially Solo for grown-ups.

Nothing Fancy, Alison Roman

If you only buy one cookbook this summer, make it this user-friendly cracker by New York Times and Good Food Magazine recipe writer Alison Roman. It's rich with on-trend dinner party ideas delivered with zero pretension, such as a do-it-yourself martini bar, and recipes with titles such as "A very good lasagne". Hurrah.

Oysters, always

I've started bringing oysters to dinner parties to gift accommodating hosts – they're a top way to kick off the evening by encouraging everyone to have a crack at shucking their own. Feel free to still bring wine too, though. Let's not go too off-piste. 

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Tiny fish

Specifically anchovies or sardines or both, enjoyed straight from the tin with a glass of something cold and white, or used to enhance your favourite form of carbohydrate. Things don't get more minimum-effort-for-maximum-reward than tiny fish ferried by slices of tomato-rubbed baguette. 

Tomato preserving in all its forms

One for the latter days of summer, when tomatoes are at their happiest and most abundant. Cooking is rarely more cathartic than roasting, simmering and preserving fruity red orbs of deliciousness, plus you'll never have to buy passata, ketchup or tinned tomatoes again (or at least not for a couple of months).The legends at Sydney's Cornersmith Picklery run group workshops on the squishy matter, but if you can't make it to Marrickville, there's an online course, too. And in Melbourne, preserving experts Fowlers run tomato masterclasses to make the most of the crop.