Saturday, May 26, 2007
While you were stuck in a Memorial Day traffic jam
I was at the Union Square greenmarket, waiting for Mr. Picky-Pants in front of me to finish selecting his fiddleheads one curly bit at a time. Maddening! Here's today's haul:
A fluffy bundle of thyme and several loooong branches of rosemary ($1.75 each from Stokes Farm), and some rhubarb ($2.50, I think; can't recall who grew it). An armful of Sweet William ($4, from the same people who grew the rhubard). Don't worry, we're not going to eat it. Two fat organic beets with abundant greens, from the people who also sell home-made kimchee. I can't remember how much these were but beets are never pricey. These beets are destined to become beetroot, cardamom and sour cream soup; I'm not yet sure what I'll do with their greens. A quarter of a pound of organic French sorrel ($4.50-$5), from the same people who grew the beets. It's expensive but it's one of my favorite greens. I also picked up a pound of nice-looking sea scallops from P.E. & D.D. Seafood and this sorrel is likely going to be used to make a sauce for the scallops. I really want to try this recipe for butter-braised radishes with sorrel too; maybe next week. Plenty of over-sized shallots ($2.50 for a small basket, from a stand in the southwest corner of the park). A pint of fiddleheads from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm ($4). These are what I went to the greenmarket hoping to find. Like ramps, they can be hard to come by even during their very brief season. They are ferns that have yet to uncoil; they're prized in Maine but happily they grow within NYC greenmarket range too. This recipe is very simple and very good; it's the only fiddlehead recipe I've ever used but they come out perfectly tender and I'm going to keep using it. If you're inclined to pickle things (ahem!) there are a few recipes here for pickled fiddleheads. A bundle of ramps ($2.50, I think), also from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm. According to their sign these are the last ramps of the season. I know I've said I could eat ramps with fresh pasta every week but I've just had my biannual carb freak-out so these will likely go into some sort of egg dish. Good thing I got eggs, then. These odd-colored and irregularly-sized beauties are from pasture-raised Araucana chickens, a distinctive rumpless breed originally from South America and now raised by fanciers in the U.S. and elsewhere. These were expensive eggs, $7/dozen, but I always buy local free-range eggs at the greenmarkets so I like to invest in super-delicious eggs. I wasn't really thinking when I asked the guy who sold these what's different about eggs from pasture-raised chickens but on the way home I thought about his explanation and realized that these chickens are really rather better-off than others — a "free-range" chicken doesn't necessarilly have a pasture to loll around in.