The “Dog Days of August” here in the desert are hard on a Culinary Diva.  The best restaurants are closed, the weekly farmers’ market is but a memory, and “freshness” is not a word associated with the produce at the local supermarkets.  The highlight of my day is the trip to the mailbox in hope for the latest issue of Food and Wine or the Chef’s Catalogue.  Heck, I am overjoyed to receive the Omaha Steaks mailer.

So imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon an Internet solution to my summer doldrums.  Gilt Taste is a purveyor of gourmet food items grown, raised, harvested or picked from across the country.  At the click of the mouse, I can have transported directly to my home such treats as black garlic, New Zealand roasting rabbits, Mikuni Wild Harvest mushrooms and finger limes or Bryan Flannery’s fine selection of meats.  These are wonderful products, carefully packaged and express delivered to ensure that freshness is a condition and not merely an aspiration. 

Sasha the Wonder Dog, preparing for another hot day in August!

But by far the most exciting product is the CSA Box that has become the basis for a culinary challenge to pass away the hot August days and nights.  The CSA Box is filled to the brim with a chef’s selection of seasonal vegetables from the rich soils of Ohio, near Lake Erie.  Its arrival signals a Christmas-like moment when the package is opened to reveal the treasure inside.  For those who remember the television food show Ready, Set, Cook, think of this box as containing the surprise ingredients from which you craft a meal.  Some of the ingredients are readily recognizable but of a variety and quality not found locally here in the desert.  I have eaten squash blossoms in restaurants but never seen them at Jensen’s or Ralph’s.  I did not know carrots came in such a rainbow of colors.  And I had no idea that lettuce could be so fragrant and enticing.

Several words of caution:  one, as we all know, Internet shopping is addictive and Gilt Taste can lead to a serious strain on one’s credit card.  Two, shipments are coming directly from the producers and delivery information is sometimes inaccurate (Gilt Taste is working on this).  On at least two occasions a delivery was made before I received an e-mail alert that a shipment was coming.  If you live in Alaska, this might not be such a problem.  But here in the desert, packages left out in 100+ degree weather don’t fare well.  So my intrepid companion was made to stand daily watch until the deliveries were made, a situation he found tiresome.  Three, the produce is fresh and not sitting around in someone’s warehouse.  So there can be delays in shipment.  If you need something for a dinner party in two days, you might end up disappointed.

Here is my photographic tribute to the CSA Farm Fresh Produce that has made me one happy Culinary Diva this August:

To purchase your own CSA Farm Fresh Produce and other quality products from Gilt Taste:

http://www.gilttaste.com/products/86063777-chef-s-garden-csa-style-seasonal-vegetables-and-herbs

To purchase Chesapeake Blue Crabs:

http://www.hancockgourmetlobster.com