I have been a gazpacho fan since freshman year of college. I was working at small cafe in Cincinnati over the summer and servers were allowed two things for free: soup and rolls. A sweet, tiny woman named Maria made the soup, and every time she’d bring out a new batch she’d smile at me knowingly. She didn’t speak a whole lot of English, but her look said, “I’m pretty damn good at making this stuff.”
Her gazpacho was tomato based, chunky and fresh. I was never a cold soup fan until I tried this. I think gazpacho is the perfect summer lunch, and I’ve thought that for a while now. And since my first taste of Maria’s version, I’ve never been picky when it comes to this magnificent soup.
That is, until I met Rosa.
Rosa is my boyfriend’s mother. Born and raised in Barcelona, she just kind of gets food. Her favorite things to make in the summer are gazpacho and sangria, and she makes both of them exceptionally well. I was so excited to try her gazpacho for the first time: a blended mixture of tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, garlic and olive oil, with an emphasis on the garlic. Cool, crisp, flavorful as all hell.
Guys, it was perfect. And now, when it comes to gazpacho, I’m ruined for life.
I went into Salt and Time for lunch the other day, a place I sincerely adore for its simplicity, use of seasoning and heavy emphasis on damn good meat, and noticed that gazpacho was on the lunch menu. Having moved away from Rosa and her summer treats this past February, I was excited to try it and eagerly ordered a large bowl.
Salt and Time’s peach and tomato gazpacho blends tomato, cucumber, peach and fennel in a half chunky, half smooth kind of way. You can barely taste the peach apart from a slight tang with each spoonful, but I think that’s a good thing. The chefs swirl a little sour cream and sprinkle a little dill and cracked pepper on top, and it’s delightful, truly. It’s just not the one.
So, I’m a gazpacho elitist now. But I’m not giving up. I highly doubt I’ll find a cold vegetable soup that makes me all giddy and shaky like Rosa’s does, but it’s Austin. I have a lot of faith in this city when it comes to food.