Ah, the day has finally arrived! I got there a bit late as I took the time to have breakfast with the husband, and then of course I got caught in a train delay. So I arrived an hour before close, which as regular market go-ers know, is the time when all the best vendors start packing up to go home because they’ve sold out already. But no matter, there was still plenty happening and I got what I was after. As is typical for early spring markets, there was the usual assortment of bedding plants (both flowers and vegetable), dried fruits and preserves put up last season. But there was plenty of fresh stuff too – asparagus, fresh garlic, green onions, new potatoes, early salad greens, and mushrooms. I had my heart set on three things – fresh, local Russian Banana potatoes, red scallions and morel mushrooms. And despite my late arrival, I got all three.
There were actually four or five different varieties of potatoes available but I couldn’t even begin to tell you what the were. I know I saw some red ones. I had tunnel vision for those Russian Bananas – after a winter of doing without (or getting the sub-par trucked in ones from Whole Foods) I was intensely focused on filling my produce bag with what is likely too many of them for use in a single week. But that’s okay – there will be enough for mashed potatoes (you’ve only had good mashed if you’ve tried them with this variety) to go with steak for dinner later this week, and some left over for roasted potatoes, which I actually like to eat as a snack they’re so good.
I also wanted red scallions, because I’m going to making bamee noodles with barbecued pork for dinner tonight and I need them as a garnish. I got a giant bunch -I also like to put them in pasta salad and scrambled eggs – pretty much anything. And I like the red ones best because they look extra special.
Oh, and the morel mushrooms. It is coq au vin season once again, thank god. I like to make it in the spring, despite the fact that it is a hearty dish, because that’s when morels are in season and the chickens are best. This year is a hell of a year for the morels – large, firm mushrooms like giant jewels. I chose almost a dozen large ones – four or five inches long! And I chose the lighter colored ones; I don’t know why but I prefer them to the darker. Every year, without fail, it’s the best $20 (okay, $21 this time) I spend. Monday night dinner will be coq au vin. I’m doing all of the prep tomorrow evening so everything is ready to go when I get home from work and it can simmer for a few hours while we have some appetizers and apertifs. And I’ve decided that the first coq au vin of the spring is a fitting occassion to open the 2004 Freemark cab we’ve been saving. A feast fit for royalty, indeed.
The only meat vendor that was in attendance today was Heartland, and it was good to see them after the long winter. I had a mind to get some beef short ribs, but of course they were sold out. That wasn’t surprising to me at all – with weather so nice, everyone wants to do ribs on the grill. But I did come away with some skewer meat, and I’ve got some fresh rosemary and baby portobellas in the fridge, so I’m thinking that some grilling is in order this week – maybe tomorrow night for a late dinner.
I feel so inspired during market season. I think about food all the time, but even more so during the market. You can have a reasonable idea of what you want and what’s going to be available, but there are always some pleasant surprises. That’s why I prefer the farmer to the store – it’s natural, it’s inspiring, it’s outside. I can’t wait to see what old favorites and new surprises the market has in store this summer.