Berry Bliss

Of all the short-lived fresh fruits that summer brings, it seems that the sweet and juicy berries, which lend themselves to light and flavorful desserts, are the ones most missed at season’s end. The raspberry is no exception. This deliciously sweet fruit with subtle tart overtones is a member of the rose family and is a bramble fruit like the blackberry, meaning it has a hollow core. Raspberries are comprised of drupelets—smaller seed-containing fruits, which wrap around that hollow core. Grown mostly in California, raspberries are at their peak until the end of this month.

The red raspberry is a great source of a dietary supplement called ellagic acid, which is thought to be responsible for antioxidant activity of the berry, and provides the body with powerful protection against a host of things, including cancer and macular degeneration. Keeping the fruit’s tart flavor and nutritional value in mind, the new executive chef of the Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta, Yves Samake, came up with some ideas for incorporating the berries into summer’s favorite fare.

First, when shopping for raspberries you want a pint that is dry, with firm berries. Samake says you should always open the pint and make sure the berries aren’t mushy or too tightly compacted in the container—that will cause them to spoil faster. He also says that typically, the bigger the berry the juicier, while smaller berries can be dry and bitter. “Raspberries are mostly consumed fresh and whole as a part of fruit plates, desserts and sometimes in salads,” says Samake.

However, he also says that the fruit works very well for jams, coulis and vinaigrette salad dressings. “They pair very well with chocolate,” the chef says. “But due to their unique combination of bitter and sweet flavors, raspberries also go well with spinach salad and even romaine.” He adds that the acidity of raspberries makes them an ideal complement to goat cheeses or even sour creams and crème fraiche. Samake recommends trying a few fresh raspberries with a glass of champagne as well. And cooking with raspberries, he says, is simple: “You just cook them down and strain out the seeds to get a smoother texture.”

fresh rasberries
Where to Eat:

The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta, GA Hotel, (404) 659-0400.

All About Yves:

French-born chef Yves Samake is finally returning to his home-away-from-home after accepting the position of executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta. The Le Mans, France, native has already spent a large chunk of his career in metro Atlanta. He started in 1997 as the spa chef at Fleur de Lys at Chateau Elan in Braselton, Georgia, and later became the chef of The Versailles, the French restaurant at Chateau Elan, before accepting a position as banquet chef at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead in 2000.

Since then, Samake has worked at Ritz-Carlton properties all over the world, including Montego Bay, Jamaica and Dubai, UAE. Most recently, he was executive sous chef at the Half Moon Bay resort in California.

In all his travels and various positions, Samake has developed a mastery of many different types of cuisine. He will be a chef to follow as he puts a fresh spin on the hotel’s menus. “I really just want to continue to elevate the culinary product at this hotel,” Samake says. “I would like to see this location become as prominent in the community and as recognized as the Buckhead location.”

RECIPES: Summertime Rasberry Tart, Chocolate Mousse and Rasberry Coulis

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