For me Spring isn’t just about the warm temperatures, sunny skies and longer days (though that certainly helps!), it’s about the produce. My regular routine begins to kick in again with early Saturday mornings at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket, a stop by the Park Slope Food Coop and home to unpack all my current finds followed by canning, brunching or whatever else ensues. It’s almost impossible not to come home, arms sore from carrying bags brimming with fresh picked treats. Baby lettuces, crisp stalks of asparagus, sweet, ripe strawberries–no matter how many bags I bring with me, I never seem to have enough room to carry it all.
The thermometer might have said 90° last Saturday, but I swear it was much hotter. Maybe not so hot as humid. Stepping outside I needed to forcefully push myself through the thick, hot air, each step forward needing complete attention and concentration. And this was at 9am. My husband lay in bed, comfortably bundled under the covers in our over air conditioned bedroom. But I was on a mission. Perhaps my last free weekend to get cherries, I wanted to make sure I had plenty to last through the winter.
When I arrived at Grand Army Plaza, the sun seemed to have gotten significantly hotter and pull closer after just a short 20 minute train ride. Grand Army is one of my favorite markets and the most convenient “big” market to my apartment, but it offers no shade other than the flimsy popup farm tents. I tried to stay under cover but it was a lost cause. I was surprised to see that in just one week the market had come alive with summer produce. Sweet corn, juicy peaches and heirloom tomatoes seemed to be everywhere. I collected a few of each but stayed true to my plan. Sweet bing and sour cherries both beckoned to me. Both equally delicious but drastically different. The heat left me with no energy to choose favorites so I did what anyone in my situation would do. I went home some of each, a little more than 4 pounds each.
I’ve never made gazpacho. I’m not even 100% convinced I really like it. But it’s a soup, and I love soup. And it’s socially more acceptable to eat in the summer compared to a rich cream of whatever vegetable blend. So it was settled. This year I would make gazpacho. But it couldn’t be a bland, ordinary version. I needed something different, something vibrant that would push me over the wall into “I love gazpacho” territory. For my husband’s birthday we dined at Traif for the first time. After what seemed like hours to choose our selection of tapas-style small plates, we were greeted by a sake glass filled with icy strawberry gazpacho. It barely touched my lips and I knew. I was making this soup.
Somehow I never tire of strawberries and rhubarb. Every trip to the greenmarket means at least 2 quarts of strawberries and a few pieces of rhubarb. This week alone we ate 4 quarts (ATE not canned), and the week isn’t over yet. Remember there’s only two of us. I make sure I get some of the first strawberries I can find and probably end up with some of the last. For at least a month, when strawberries are bountiful, it’s like no other food exists.
Until a few weeks ago, I only thought of radishes as the spicy crunch in my salads. Or in pickled form. Which I have to admit, are one of my least favorite types of pickles, just a bit higher ranked than eggs. But all that changed while flipping through the Edible Brooklyn cookbook, a gift from a few Christmases ago, far under utilized. A recipe for radishes sautéed with cream and herbs caught my eye. I had heard of cooked radishes but never sampled or made them myself. The promise that cooking mellowed the root, taking away it’s spicy bite was a bit disappointed (there’s just something addictive about the peppery snap of a radish) but I was still intrigued.