Blueberry Thrills from a Maine Source Chef Rob Evans is known for creating entire menus around one ingredient at Hugo's, his restaurant in Portland, Maine. And since it's blueberry season in Maine, that's what Debbie Elliott orders up. His recipes are especially good with smaller, "low-bush" blueberries.

Blueberry Thrills from a Maine Source

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DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:

And now to the East Coast, and Maine, where it's lobster and blueberry season. For tonight's food moment, we've called chef Rob Evans of Hugo's restaurant in Portland. He's known for building entire menus around one ingredient. So we asked him how he would create a dinner featuring blueberries at every course.

Mr. ROB EVANS (Executive Chef, Hugo's): I would do a savory soup with an apple in the background, maybe a little crème fresh. Certain things come to mind when I think of blueberries - sweet, kind of a earthy tone, not a lot of acidity. So I would naturally pair it with some more acidic items like green apples, citrus, ginger, things that have a sour note to them. I mean, even if you're looking for one particular ingredient to shine, you don't want to get tired of it either.

ELLIOTT: Right, and blueberries is a pretty strong flavor. I would...

Mr. EVANS: It is a pretty strong flavor.

ELLIOTT: I would think...

Mr. EVANS: No one has asked me to do a blueberry menu outside of you guys, and it would be a tough one.

ELLIOTT: So you might start with a savory soup with maybe a little apple background.

Mr. EVANS: From there, blueberry chutneys or relishes. And like chutneys or relishes, again, are something I can add acidity to kind of balance out the fruit.

ELLIOTT: And serve that with, say, a grilled fish?

Mr. EVANS: And serve that with, say, with duck or...

ELLIOTT: Ooh, duck?

Mr. EVANS: ...or a pork or even lamb, a meat that lends itself to that sweet - those sweet flavors.

ELLIOTT: You grew up there in New England. Were blueberries a big part of your family's table as you grew up?

Mr. EVANS: Well, they were, but funny you say that. It wasn't New England. It was Newfoundland. I was born here in New England, but I spent part of my youth in Newfoundland. And they were known for stopping on every wild blueberry patch they could find on the side of the road, and we would pick blueberries.

I think one of the - my most memorable blueberry experience, outside of with my family, was hiking Mount Katahdin here in Maine. And breakfast came, and we'd been hiking three days and we found a wild patch of blueberries and we had a can of condensed milk. And I ate a bowl of wild picked blueberries with condensed milk on a rock, and that's the lasting memory for me with blueberries.

ELLIOTT: Okay, so you've given us some hints for our savory soup, and then we're going to have something like a lamb or a duck with a little chutney.

Mr. EVANS: Yep, with like a chutney, a blueberry chutney, or a blueberry relish, and then it gets easy after that because then we go into desserts.

ELLIOTT: Yeah? So, what? Blueberry pie, blueberry cobbler?

Mr. EVANS: Right now we're doing a blueberry consommé, which we just steep blueberries in a water, lemon and sugar solution. We don't break the skins, and we extract the color and flavor from them. And then we aerate it in a - with CO2, kind of like a blueberry soda. And then we have a lemon verbena pudding cake that sits in the middle. And we pour this soup in the bowl table-side, and you get to like mix the pudding cake along with the carbonated blueberry consommé.

And then we finish with a blueberry popsicle. And we do a little blueberry puree, and we freeze them in the molds, and then we top it off with green apple. And it's refreshing and very Maine. So we start everyone with a taste of lobster right now, and we end them with blueberries for that summer Maine feeling.

ELLIOTT: Sounds good. Rob Evans is executive chef at Hugo's in Portland, Maine. Thanks so much for talking with us.

Mr. EVANS: Thank you.

(Soundbite of music)

ELLIOTT: To find blueberry recipes from Rob Evans, go to our Web site, npr.org. This is NPR News.

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