Drink to That: Cypress Grill’s Craig Deihl, a James Beard finalist for Best Chef: Southeast, serves a spread of easy Italian-inspired small plates.
“Cooking polenta—or stone-ground grits—in a crock pot overnight is the easiest way to make it,” says Deihl, who uses Anson Mills Artisan Fine Polenta.
A plum’s tendency toward tartness fades when grilled because the process draws out its sugary side.
Ask your butcher to place thin slices of cured meat on deli paper so it won’t stick together.
Asparagus only needs a minute or two on the grill.
For the best tomato-orange marmalade sauce—used to sweeten spicy meatballs—make it two or three days ahead to let the flavors meld.
Slice of Heaven: Served with cured meats, mozzarella gets a lift with a sprinkling of chives, black pepper, sea salt, and extra-virgin olive oil.
Grill Master: Plums—all the more sweeter when grilled—counter the earthy asparagus and sharp balsamic vinegar drizzled over the dish. Prefer a traditional meal with an appetizer? Serve this as an opener.
Banner Dish: Coincidentally the same colors of the Italian flag—red, white, and green—this refreshing salad of beets, watermelon, feta, and arugula gets an edge with a purée of olive oil and cured black olives.
Secret Ingredients: Fresh thyme and a syrup infused with bay leaves add zest to this pound cake.
Sweet & Spicy: Redolent with fennel, these lamb meatballs are glazed with tomato-orange marmalade.