All Hail the Mighty Avocado, which, by the way, is a fruit

Don't get me wrong, I love winter and the seasonal dishes that come with it. I love me some creamy soups and hot chocolate, but by this time of the year, I'm ready for some summertime fare. Thankfully, summer's just around the corner, and my favorite fruits are coming back in season, including the avocado.

California avocado season started in March and will continue through September, so now's the perfect time to grab this creamy fruit and make some light, dare I say healthy, dishes. That's exactly what Kent Rathbun did Tuesday when he and the California Avocado Commission hosted an avocado-themed dinner at Abacus.

The five course meal featured the Hass avocado in all its glory, and, yes, I spelled Hass correctly. In the late 1920s, California grower Rudolph Hass planted the seed that later yielded the dark and rich fruit. Today, California is responsible for 90 percent of the nation's avocado supply, and the Haas variety is the most popular avocado sold worldwide. And the avocado makes for one tasty ingredient, whether in a modern preparation like ice cream or in a traditional pairing with crab. Tuesday's dinner proved that avocado can be paired with, well, almost anything. The first dish was an avocado and king crab salad nestled in a tomato and lemongrass soup. The hints of red pepper oil and lemongrass paired well with the delicate crab and nutty avocado. Spicy tempura avocado and rock shrimp followed, and the lightly battered avocado was a creamy and crunchy treat to be savored. Now that's a guilty pleasure you wouldn't feel too guilty about consuming. Hey, avocados are high in vitamins and minerals. A chipotle bacon wrapped duck breast was cooked to perfection- - pink, tender, and made even better by the avocado and peaches tucked inside the medallions. For dessert, a blackberry sage crisp proved the perfect summertime treat, especially with a scoop of avocado and Meyer lemon ice cream.

The dinner was a great opportunity to learn some tips for preparing and storing avocados. The California Avocado Commission would like everyone to know they don't endorse removing the seed with a knife, no matter what you may have seen on Food Network. Even though I usually eat produce as soon as I buy it, it's good to know there's a trick to making avocados ripen faster. Store them in a paper bag with an apple for two or three days, and, presto, you'll have some ripe and ready to eat. Now if only I could wait that long to eat one.

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