Wednesday, April 26, 2006

on the road and back again

Oh, where has the Pie Queen been?

Out in Bucks County in knee-high wellies, busting sod and digging up bleeding hearts by the roadside. (The plants, that is, tiny wild plants that thrive in damp shady spots surrounded by moss and ferns and water trickling down the rocks).

Up in Warwick, NY with the Pie Queen Mother, making mint sauce for the lamb chops and having Almondine's croissants for Easter breakfast. (Yes, I know it was Passover. I'm a BAD Jew. But my religious family history is a little, well, complicated, and more truthfully, I just hate to pass up any holiday, especially one that involves brunch and marshmallow chicks).

In the downstairs cave at Vintage New York, eating chunklets of cheese, drinking Long Island Syrah (and very good it was too, much to my admittedly California-shaped surprise), and swapping cheesemaker stories with Sasha & Michael, two lovely people who are about to go on a cross-country odessey (Alaska included) to talk to small-scale American cheesemakers. They're calling their project Cheese By Hand and they have just about the cutest website and t-shirts around, so check 'em out, and tune in while they're on the road to hear what's going on in the pastures of this country, and how small artisans--and their fine cud-chewing friends--are surviving in the face of mega-agribusiness. Restaurants Mas and Blue Hill provided some tiny, tasty little spring snacks, including what looked like spinach dip but turned out to be fresh ricotta blended with chopped dandelion greens and ramps with a splash of buttermilk, and my goodness it was tasty.

And speaking of ramps, just why did the NYT give Kim Severson a whole spread to bitch and moan about her distaste for spring greens? OK, lady, you think fiddleheads and ramps are overrated. Fine; don't eat 'em. But don't whine and rant and try to convince everyone else that they blow, just because you'd rather go eat another storage potato or Israeli tomato. (Although I was amused by the snark of describing fiddleheads, etc. as "promising dates that end up making your ex look terrific.") Anyone that thinks nettles can only be boiled "to a soggy mess" has not had the sublime, astroturf-green nettle pasta and nettle soup at San Francisco's Delfina, and since Kim S. did a number of years writing for the SF Chronicle, she's got no excuse. I'm starting to think that she's just a sucky cook. But this does mean more fiddleheads and ramps for the rest of us, yippee, although I do yearn, gently, for the un-weedy California harbingers of spring: asparagus, favas, and baby artichokes. Sigh.

And, of course, I've been in the garden,

aka the square foot of planter space that I have in the new Transit Garden, at 2nd Place and Smith St. I go here daily to pray over the lemon balm and the still stubbornly micro-mini lettuce spriglets. (The radishes, however, are looking quite robust). Back in March, I promised K. a homegrown salad when she came back for leave in May, and now, with the start of her leave just 2 weeks away (yippee!), I'm wondering just how baby a baby-greens salad I can serve.


k. said...

Do baby me with baby-baby greens. I love the photos. Can't wait to see the real thing... very soon!

Stephanie J. Rosenbaum said...

Hopefully, we'll have more to munch on than just lemon balm and radish tops--but mostly, I just can't wait for your company!

bakerina said...

Oh, Stephanie, thank you. I was on beyond irritated at that Kim Severson piece; while I hate mindless groupthink as much as she does, I was baffled at what amounted to her near-tantrum about wild greens in print. I did, however, adore the response she got from the ramp harvester in Tennessee: "Down here we don't complain about the weeds. We just eat them." :)

Brett said...

I was surprised to read that whiny piece in the NYT last week, too. Especially, as you said, from someone who spent much time in SF. Did she never have nettles pizza at Chez Panisse? I guess she's just trying to get some attention by having a contrarian point of view.