I sliced open a cold fresh cantaloupe straight from the fridge one morning recently and cubed it up in a pretty crystal bowl. The taste of this fruit was immediately nostalgic, and over a breakfast of warm blueberry muffins, I shared the special memory with my husband.
As a child, my extended family vacationed at Myrtle Beach every summer at a beautiful, historic oceanfront hotel called Chesterfield Inn. It was the kind of place families returned to year after year, and there were so many things that made it memorable.
It had a large double front porch that faced the ocean filled with inviting rocking chairs. Between the ocean and the inn was a perfectly manicured green lawn and a single palm tree where mom took a picture of me, my brother and cousin every year.
The inn had a swimming pool and a downstairs restaurant with white tablecloths and large French doors that opened to the sea. The servers wore green sport coats, white collar button down starched shirts and black neck ties and slacks. Each year, we had the same head server — Phillip, a tall gentleman with a distinct accent and warm demeanor. There was a staircase that led downstairs to the restaurant and it opened every morning and evening at the same time.
On the first day of vacation after what felt like a long trip from Augusta to the coast, we would line up on the stairs, waiting for the wide doors to open, and there in the grand dining room was Phillip, holding his round tray with a big smile and open arms, excited to see how much we’d grown since the summer before.
After hugs and much ado, Phillip would guide us to our tables quickly settling everyone in, and tell us about the menu. “We have fresh strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon…” and so the day began. My mom tells a story that when I was about 2 years old in that same dining room, and they couldn’t get me to take a bite of my ice cream, it was Phillip who succeeded. He teased me saying he would eat it up and that did the trick.Though the inn has since been torn down, Phillip, along with all those precious memories, remains there forever etched in my mind.
Summertime is the season for fresh fruit, and it’s one of the most refreshing and healthy options to enjoy when the temperatures are hot outside. Blueberries, blackberries, melons and cantaloupe are spilling over at the farmers market right now, and my herb garden is ripe with fresh basil and mint, perfect for tossing all together. This fruit salad takes only minutes to assemble, and is great for taking to a get-together or on a picnic. You get that pop of lime flavor and the sweetness of the fruit. Serve it family style in a large bowl, or gift it in individual mason jars for a new mom.
Just like my family’s Chesterfield Inn vacation, I hope the rest of your summer is filled with good food and good times.
Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a private chef and the author of the best-selling memoir “Some Kinda Good.” Featured in Forbes, on Food Network and ABC, she writes about Southern, coastal cuisine, locally sourced and in-season. Connect with her on social media by liking Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow @SKGFoodBlog on Instagram and Twitter. To learn more, visit RebekahLingenfelser.com.
Watermelon Berry-Lime Fruit Salad
2 cups seedless watermelon, diced
2 cups blueberries, washed
1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup simple syrup, equal parts sugar and water dissolved
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch fresh basil, chiffonade
In a large bowl, toss all ingredients together until well combined. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. Serve using a slotted spoon.