One-Block Feast: Spring Garden Plan
(Page 7 of 14)
The Local Spring Feast
A couple of days before our spring dinner, we checked out the favas. The pods were fine, and enough of the greens had lasted to give us a filling for two big quiches, which together formed the centerpiece of our menu. Then we went into the garden with Johanna and harvested our crops, pulling up golden and red beets and dusty pink ones—the amazing ‘Chioggias’ that, when sliced crosswise, looked like swirly peppermint lollipops. The carrots were just a matter of pulling, too, and all the herbs were easy—we just snipped. Pull on a green onion, though, and it snaps off. You have to dig around each one and then tug to get the whole thing.
In the kitchen, we tasted our vegetables so we would know how best to cook them. With a bowl of water for swishing and a knife for root trimming, we chomped straight from the basket. Everything was sweet and juicy, especially the radishes, which were as crisp and mild as apples, and the green onions, which had only a hint of heat sneaking in toward the end of the chew. The frilly little chervil had a clean, good flavor. French tarragon numbed our tongues with a hit of potent licorice, like it was supposed to. The strawberries were best of all—dead ripe and supersweet. We were glad our plan for them was simple: We wouldn’t get in their way.
A breeze kicked up on the day of our feast, so we ate inside, next to sliding doors open to the garden. The beer was there for the curious, and we still had plenty of Chardonnay to sip as we stood around eating freshly baked buttermilk crackers with sweet ricotta, mint, and fava beans. We had a platter of radishes, too, with fresh butter and salt—it was all they needed. We covered the table with pink roses that Johanna had picked, and bottles of wine and pitchers of strawberry lemonade. Everything was served on platters: mesclun salad with paper-thin circles of red, golden, and lollipop-swirled beets; tall, custardy quiches laced with sautéed fava leaves; and a warm salad of grilled carrots with tarragon. Elaine was in charge of dessert, and she had been experimenting with our strawberries for several days. In the end, she turned away from strawberry fromage blanc cheesecake (because we already had a crusty dish, the quiche) and strawberries simmered in wine syrup (it tasted wintry). Instead, she spooned homemade fromage blanc into bowls, added the strawberries, and drizzled warm lemon-infused honey on top. It was so simple, and it was just right.
The dinner looked like a garden in full bloom, and it tasted wonderful, too. And yet the real triumph—as with each of the feasts that preceded it—happened on the way to the table.
We had coaxed food from pure nature, and that had required forming a relationship with it. We’d been moved to tears and totally frustrated; we’d been overjoyed and awestruck. We’d seen into the microscopic heart of cheese, beer, and wine; worked with bees, chickens, and a cow; and made gardens that grew like green symphonies, each little plant playing its part, contributing its flavor and beauty to the whole. Our project had taken place, more or less, on one block, but what we learned from it went far beyond.
Page: << Previous 1
| 7 | 8
| Next >>