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  • A Taste to Linger Forever

  • Sandy Dowling has eaten all over the world and cooks global cuisines — French, Italian, Thai, Bavarian. But none tops the fruits of a Rogue Valley summer.
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  • Sandy Dowling has eaten all over the world and cooks global cuisines — French, Italian, Thai, Bavarian. But none tops the fruits of a Rogue Valley summer.
    "If I could have just one thing to eat," says the chef, "it would be a perfectly ripe and juicy Forty-Niner peach, picked warm from the tree, on a hot August afternoon."
    Letting the juices just run down her chin would be a bonus, says Dowling.
    Owner of Central Point's The Willows, Dowling described the sweet sensation last year at a party for her 40th wedding anniversary, where a guest asked other celebrants if they could eat only one more meal — a last supper, so to speak — what would it be?
    Last suppers have cropped up more often as dinner-party conversation since the 2007 release of Melanie Dunea's "My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals."
    "It's so hard," says Dowling.
    She loves antipasto, especially Portland chef Vitaly Paley's cured meats with a few home-cured olives.
    For appetizers, Dowling thinks of fresh Thai-style summer rolls filled with cold Oregon Dungeness crab, somen noodles, cucumber and fresh shredded mint.
    The salad would pair her garden-fresh baby greens with roasted hazelnuts and fresh blackberries, all drizzled with blackberry-hazelnut oil vinaigrette.
    Dowling couldn't wish for a better main course than husband Joe's rib-eye steak perfectly grilled to medium-rare with a risotto of wild Oregon lobster, morel and chanterelle mushrooms and grilled baby asparagus.
    Dessert is the toughest choice of all for the chocolate-loving chef who also favors lemons, berries, nuts and all pies and pastries.
    "But if I have to choose just one thing, let it be that amazing hazelnut-meringue raspberry-mousse torte at the Jacksonville Inn restaurant, made famous ... over 25 years ago! It's still on their menu and still a little bite of heaven!"
    Heaven also comes in summer for Talent chef Charlene Rollins, co-owner of New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro.
    "You can just say, 'tomato toast with corn and green beans.' "
    "When conditions are right," Rollins says, she and her family eat the combination all summer.
    And the right conditions don't just entail sunshine and warm temperatures, she says.
    "You not only have to grow the — usually Purple Cherokee — tomato, so you can pick it at just the right moment," says Rollins, "but you have to have a lot of them because every tomato is different and there's a lot of luck involved, so you just have to keep trying."
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