Friday, April 28, 2006

Home again, home again...

New York in the spring time, couldn't be better. I'm so glad to be here, even if it's brief.... Coming home to The City is like slipping into my favorite pair of well-worn blue jeans. Familiar and comfortable; I know every inch, every seam, every crease, every frayed thread; its smells, its look and feel and yet everyday it is something new, something of my own creation.

New York City is a treasure-trove of culinary delights from the Italian markets of Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, the Indian markets in Jackson Heights, the Middle-Eastern markets in Brooklyn to China Town in Manhattan. Nothing ignites my passion for food and cooking more, and if my knee were not out of commission I would jump on my Vespa and cruise over to Momofuko's Noodle Bar in the East Village for oysters with kimchee and smoked Berkshire pork buns, or head to Baked in Red Hooke for a perfect coconut macaroon and latte or Laboratorio Del Gelato for whatever seasonal flavors they are making right now, or I'd head to Chelsea Market for fresh buffalo mozzarella and the finest prosciutto available in the city. Or, I'd peruse the Union Square Farmers Market, it should be just the right time for Wild Ramps to start poking their heads up. Mmmmm, I love wild ramps!!!

Wild Ramps appearing in the farmers market, for me at least, are the quintessential sign that spring has sprung. I love the spring time in New York, but so often it is cut short by a late snow storm or an early heat wave. But by the looks of things, spring has come on in all her glory; waiting to be admired, recognized, posturing for the world to see...

I remember last year walking through the farmers market admiring the flower stalls, passing the pastry and honey vendors, thinking about how great it would be when the spring produce started to arrive. I daydreamed about fava beans, baby beets, spring garlic and the long wait for the ugly-sexy beast of summer, the heirloom tomato. Then, I spotted the ramps - the jewel of the Catskill Mountains - laying seductively on the vendors table; firm, pearl white bulbs; long pink and emerald hued stalks exposed seductively like the nape of a neck, thick lush greens yearning to be touched and smelled and cooked... I picked out two of the best looking bunches and took them home. I pickled the bulbs, which my friend Melissa summarily ate (every single last one of them!) and then I served the greens, grilled and drizzled with Extra-Virgin olive oil, sea salt, fresh ground pepper and a squeeze of lemon along side wild salmon seared on an iron skillet so the outside was crisp and the inside was medium-rare (and with a tangy chickpea puree on the side). Good ingredients require minimal effort. I like clean food, just a touch of heat and seasoning to bring out it's natural beauty...

Anyway, I've been so deprived for good, fresh produce in the Caribbean. My taste buds are craving variety! On Saturday, I'm going to be taking off to my dads vineyard in Southern Oregon (yes, I know, the sacrifices...) while my knee heel which means I'll have to get one of my cousins to either carry me or cart me in a wheelbarrow from winery to winery... But I can't wait 'til my knee is better so I can walk the farmers market, raid Kalustyan's (the best spice shop in Manhattan), go sampling at Murray's Cheese, and drop into Sahadi's and Damascus Bakery for fresh grape leaves, Syrian string cheese, pickled turnips, fresh baked pita bread and homemade spinach pies. I can eat my way through three boroughs without even leaving my couch (which is good for my knee, and my girlish figure)!

It is GREAT to be home! Maybe I won't give up my apartment after all...

By the way, if any of my friends from New York are around - Happy Hour at my house tonight (Friday), 8pm-ish. Drop me an email or just head over... And come on in, because I can't walk to the door to answer the bell.

Can someone bring me some cheese? ;o)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Cristina,

Have you thought of becoming a poet? You definitely write like one!

Welcome back! You are trading spring in new york for west coast wineries? Well, who can blame you, those places are the most precious. Have a good time, heal fast, enjoy vino!

Kira

The Wayward Chef said...

Thanks Kira! Perhaps when my knee is better and I'm back in New York (probably in a couple of weeks) me you and Midori can all get together for drinks or coffee or something. There are many more stories that I just haven't even had time to write! Thanks for the good wishes... It's so good to be home!

Cheers,
Cristina

Brouhaha said...

Hey Skewterchef, glad to see you're back in the city. Just saw this. Are you home for long? Come by on Wednesday at the Monkey!

 
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