I guess this needs a title…? How about (the wildly uncreative): List #1

Listen, I know I already posted earlier today, but, seeing as I’m up in the country, in between deadlines, it’s in the 40s outside (the 40s! It was 90 here two weeks ago!), Trouble is off at work (and, honestly, I don’t quite have enough to do with myself these days. I can only check on the chicks so many times before they start following me around and getting underfoot). So I thought I’d take a few minutes to write a list. A list, that is, of the fabulous springy things I’ve been eating recently. I mean, allegedly, this is something of a food blog. At least I think it should be, given that food– reading about it, writing about it, studying it, thinking about it, interviewing people around it, cooking it, selling it, eating it– takes up the vast majority of my waking hours.

Ramps got their own shout out, but other than that, I’ve been sorely neglecting the early bounty of the Northeast. So, in no particular order, a list of 10 memorable eats of late (some local, some not so much so).

  1. The ramps. Oh, the ramps. First, I had them up here at our friends’ house (see the ramps post). Then there was a simple dinner at my friend’s house in Millerton, New York, for which I made a lovely side of simple Asian mushrooms (I didn’t think to look at the name on the packages, but they’re the kind that are sold in clumps, the ones that look like, excuse me but it can’t be helped, tiny penises) sautéed over high heat, with a handful of ramp leaves thrown in at the last minute and a few drops of tamari. Yum!
  2. Maybe it doesn’t count as a gourmet meal, but I’ve been making green smoothies with early spring kale, yogurt, fruit and honey every morning. Kale is soooo sweet this time of year, especially if you buy it when the leaves are still small and tender.
  3. We had a beautiful meal with our friends Tim and Caroline of The Kitchen Garden Farm, along with a few other food and farm pals. Tim, a pretty extraordinary self-trained cook, made a riff on green papaya salad by subbing green cabbage for the papaya, and grilled up perfectly spicy chicken thighs. I remember chiles and lemongrass and fish sauce… the rest is lost with the rest of the rosé-blurred memories. 
  4. I’ve been consuming insane quantities of a particularly beautiful red-veined spinach that our friend Kristin grows up here in Western MA. Simply wilted down over a pan full of garlic lightly browned in a few glugs of olive oil– yum!
  5. Tons of granola from Trouble’s bakery, El Jardin, in South Deerfield. I keep a bag in the car for the schlep between Brooklyn and The Valley
  6. When the weather turned cold again this week, I started craving heartier fare rather than light salads and slaws. Like Trouble’s frijoles magicos (well, that’s what I dubbed them). They’re simple– black beans that have been pureed, cooked down with a bit of manteca (that’s lard for you vegetarians and vegans– BEWARE!… that you’re missing out on something really, really delicious), lots of garlic, a whole chili or two and (the secret ingredient) singed avocado leaves. They changed my world the first time he served them to me. They have, since, become my happy food.
  7. Asparagus. Need I say more? Grilled, roasted, steamed, eaten raw right off the stalk… I mean, come on.
  8. Red ale (do I get to count beer?). The medium body and only so-so hoppiness seems just right for this mercurial weather– big enough for chilly evenings, but refreshing enough to take edge off after a hot early spring afternoon of gardening.
  9. This morning, when hunger struck before the lunch hour, I used a few tender young hakurei turnips to scoop up garlicky homemade hummus from…
  10. … another amazing meal with the Kitchen Garden folks– their spring lamb roast farm dinner. Oh god, it was so good. A spread of olives (that I toted up from Titan Foods in Astoria– another “falling back in love with New York” experience early this past Saturday morning), Greek spreads, hard boiled eggs, wild greens dandelions and ramps, spanikopita made with a whole mess of greens  (my favorite of which was the stinging nettles), and a delectable spit-roasted whole lamb. Tons of crisp white and mellow red added a warm continuity to the evening, and we capped it all off with a delicious baklava made by my enormously talented best friend/college housemate, Anna Feldman (who I desperately wish had a website so I could link it here!)
When I think about the fact that it’s only the second day of May, and the eating’s already this good, I shudder with pleasure thinking about May, June and July. The glory of Indian summer and October (my favorite eating month)? Don’t even get me started!