Friday, April 20, 2012

Eating Omily: Wild Times at the Farmer's Market

It's finally happened: the asparagus is back at the Farmer's Market! I haven't been able to get my hands on those Spring tonic spears yet because the first few times they appear it's in limited quantities and they go FAST! No to worry; the farmers will be bringing them in straight through June! I'm biding my time with sweet, crisp over-wintered spinach.
Word on the street is that the mild winter and unusually warm early spring will mean early strawberries in my neck of the woods! Oh, I can almost taste them...I hope there's a bumper crop; it would almost make the pathetic lack of snow we had worth it...the best part though? This means I can take what's left of my frozen supply and drop them in a bottle of vodka for a couple of weeks! Mmmmm...who's up for a cocktail party??
Love, love, love!

Spring is a special time of year for us locavores. Not only because it's the beginning again of the seasons of abundance beginning with some of our most beloved flavors, but because there are some extra special edible stars making all too brief cameos. I speak of those wild children of the plant kingdom: the foods we can't seem to grow on purpose. We have to go find them. What better way to get back in touch with your hunter-gatherer roots, right? This is the time of year to look for morrels, incredibly delicious wild mushrooms, and a type that is so distinct in appearance it's even safe for novice shroom gatherers to find on their own! That said, of course, if you are in any doubt, safety first!
Ramps are also popping up for $3 a bunch, and thank goodness, because the garlic crop won't be in for a hot minute, and what's left out there is $2 a head and half molded! Ramps are the smaller, more pungent, wild cousins of those great, big sweet-oniony leeks. They have a distinct garlicky character, and are fabulous as a garlic replacement, or as a base for a soup that will clear your sinuses no problem!
Know what else is out there?? Fiddle head ferns! If you've seen these you may have been a little doubtful: they look more like snail shells than anything else. They have a subtle flavor, compared to asparagus, green beans, and artichokes, and a lovely spring-crunch of a texture when lightly cooked. They have quite the cult following, so go see what all the fuss is about!
Before preserving season settles down on us and I'm dropping twice our weekly grocery budget to buy what I need in bulk to get us through the cold months (and a whole lot of birthday/Christmas/thank you gifts!), I'm looking forward to savoring some of these spring time delicacies. Get out there and try them; this is a very special, very, very limited time offer!

Om nom nom...
~em

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