Just in case you haven't noticed the recent spike in temperature, summer is here (maybe not according to the calendar, but it sure feels like it).
It's time to close those windows, pull out your board shorts and bathing suits, and crank up the A/C; we're in it for the long haul now -- there's nothing that can be done at this point.
On the bright side, plenty of local spots are lightening up their menus for the summer season.
Max's Harvest recently introduced a new selection of summertime dishes and cocktails to help with the heat. We spoke to chef Eric Baker about the changes.
Known for its fresh, seasonal menu utilizing local products, Max's frequently changes up its menu but most of the modifications are done gradually to avoid shocking longtime guests.
"The changing of the season and the availability of product from our local purveyors were the driving force in the new menu changes," says Baker, who attended culinary school in France. "My background has kept me true within our concept of local and seasonal with a strong emphasis on technique."
Keeping within the structure of the existing menu, the new items run the gamut in terms of style and flavor.
Some of the new snacks are definitely worth checking out. The Florida shrimp and shishito peppers ($13) are served in a crispy tempura crust with nori salsa verde and bonito flakes. Sourced from local Capone Ranch, the Crispy "Pig Wing" ($12) is coated in a Vietnamese-inspired caramel sauce and is served over noodle salad with cashews, cilantro, mint, and chilies.
"As a chef who is constantly searching for new ideas and inspiration; when one comes along that I feel will translate well within our concept I jump at it," says Baker. "I think the 'pig wing' is a fun and playful cut that has tremendous versatility to allow me to put my own spin on it."
New small plates range from Mediterranean to Caribbean. One of the most popular so far is the grilled & chilled calamari with ramp pesto, faro, black eyed-peas, arugula, artisan tomatoes, and toasted pistachios ($17) is bright and imaginative. The grilled Jamaican jerk octopus ($18) is served over a crispy polenta cake with a pineapple-fennel sauce vierge is bold and spicy. Local ricotta gnocchi with Okeechobee oyster mushrooms, fava beans, thyme butter, and a large wedge of truffle tremor cheese ($16) is a creative twist on the classic dish.
"I have been very lucky to come to an established restaurant with a great pedigree and heritage that was created by chefs before me," says Baker. "Along with that are a wealth of dishes that became long standing guest favorites. One of which is the Local Ricotta Gnocchi with Okeechobee oyster mushrooms, favas, and Truffle Tremor Cheese that we were excited to revisit."
If you're looking for a large plate, try the golden tilefish with Florida clams, smoked fingerlings, artichokes, corn, pickled shallots, and ginger beer braise ($36); it's a bold and briny dish. Or go for the Murray's Brick Chicken with "angry potatoes," green onions, braised kale, baby carrots, spicy tomato, and aioli ($28).
To wash it all down, mixologist Kris Bahamondes has created a selection of summer-inspired cocktails. Peach Tree Aviation is comprised of Bols Genevere Gin, Combier Peach Liquor, crème de violette, and lemon ($14). The Rose Garden contains Tanduay Silver Rum, lemon, rosewater, fresh rose petals and champagne, garnished with rum-soaked sugar cane ($14). Napoleon's Green Market consists of Illegal Mezcal, Mandarine Napoleon, jalapeno infused agave, lime, and a bell pepper-cucumber puree ($14).
Max's Harvest is located at 169 NE Second Ave. in Delray Beach. Call 561-381-9970, or visit maxsharvest.com.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.