The Sandpoint Eater: Summer in Sandpoint

By Marcia Pilgeram
Reader Columnist

In all past years, I counted on my magnificent, blooming rhododendron to announce the beginning of our long-awaited summer in Sandpoint. Alas, this year, the pride of my yard has sadly disappointed me (and my neighbors), and not a single pink blossom is present. I had it trimmed back this spring (for the first time in more than 20 years), but we also had that hard freeze this winter, so I don’t yet know where to lay blame. I’m still hopeful it might surprise me with a spray of pink next month.

Fortunately, there are other “summer is (maybe) coming” benchmarks we can look to — Lost in the ’50s, the opening Saturday of the Farmers’ Market and, my favorite, the reopening of our iconic lakeside eateries. 

Pearl’s on the Lake and The Float House are already open, and It won’t be long before Trinity at City Beach opens its doors on Friday, June 7. Though they’ve changed names and menus over the years, these beloved waterfront locations remain the same. Whether biking up to Trinity for a quick bite and a brew or boating to Pearl’s for a complete celebratory gathering, there’s nothing like a sunset cocktail-on-the-deck vibe! 

I am darn grateful to have friends with boats, because even though I can drive to any of those establishments, nothing is more pleasurable than mooring into a slip and tying up for an evening of lively libations and conversations with good pals. 

After operating a summer tourist train for more than 10 years, I greatly respect these seasonal restaurants. It’s a hectic pace all summer, and then there is a lot of work to close up at the end of the season. Winter doesn’t provide much income and then comes spring, and it’s time to plan menus, refresh and reopen, reestablish supply chains and rehire for the season. Fortunately, places like Pearl’s, Trinity and The Float House have the know-how to do just that. I think they must all be pretty good employers, too, because I see many of the same kitchen staff, servers and bartenders (like my favorite mixologist, Lance of Trinity) year after year. 

I’ve already been peeking at their menus and am happy to see some of my favorites will be available — especially Trinity’s peach burrata caprese paired with a chilled pinot grigio. Pearl’s also has a pretty tasty beet and burrata salad, and I look forward to cutting into one. 

Everything tastes better with burrata — a decadent mozzarella stretched around a small pouch of cream and creamy curds to form a ball and sealed off with a trademark pinch. Burratina is an even smaller version that can be eaten in one rich and creamy bite.

I first sampled burrata about 10 years ago at Eataly on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago and was forever hooked after one creamy bite. Thanks to its popularity, you can find it more readily available locally, and if you’re keen to learn to make it, there are hands-on classes at culinary shops such as Eataly and Sur la Table. If you prefer to stay home and learn the art of stretching cheese, you will find many online classes (learning to make it is on my shortlist, and I hope to attend an in-person class next fall). 

While I don’t yet know how to make burrata, I certainly know how to enjoy it. I had more than my share on recent trips to Spain and especially Italy, where it was created more than 100 years ago in the southern Italian Murgia region. Generations of burrata makers continue to produce this cheese in the tradition of their forefathers. It’s a complex cheese with a short shelf life, making it more expensive than mozzarella. In Italy, it’s eaten on pizza, in pasta and caprese salads, and on its own, served with bread, basil, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. I like it best when it’s served at room temperature.

Hopefully, I’ll see some of you this summer at one of our lakeside restaurants (do yourself a favor and try my favorite salads). Or, who knows? Maybe I’ll catch you at a local cheese counter. Either way, I hope your summer in Sandpoint indulgences will include some creamy Italian burrata!

Heirloom tomatoes and burrata salad recipe

This is such a pretty and tasty salad. Make just before serving. I think it has the best flavor when the tomatoes and burrata are at room temperature. Feel free to add chopped nuts or olives atop a bed of arugula. Serve with fresh baguette.


• 4 medium heirloom tomatoes (different colors)

• ½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped (save a few for garnish) 

• 4 oz ounce burrata cheese ball

• 1 tsp flaky sea salt

• 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

• 2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar


Slice tomatoes about ¼ thick and place on a ceramic (non-metallic) platter. Sprinkle with chopped basil, sea salt and pepper. Add ball of burrata and drizzle platter with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and serve soon. If you prefer, you can use chopped chunks of tomatoes and tear the burrata into pieces (I prefer to keep whole). Leftovers should be refrigerated and eaten within a day.

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