Tonight, dinner was with some old friends, one of whom is a well know chef of the highest caliber. We had planned our dinner for some weeks and, knowing his penchant for keeping all ingredients local and organic, I couldn’t wait to head over to his house. It didn’t surprise me to discover upon arrival that his mise en place was complete and that dinner would be served within the hour. This included fresh spargel (white asparagus), fiddlehead ferns, morel mushrooms and a wood-roasted half sirloin. I suspected he would focus on local ingredients in season, and had been thinking about this since arriving home for the weekend from work to find a local ingredient of my own growing in my yard.
Last Friday evening I noticed garlic chives growing along the back border of my lawn. Pulling one up and snapping it in half, I took in its fragrant, sharp aroma. The smell reminded me of how, as a child, we used to dare each other to chew their garlicky, pale white bulbs raw. Even then, I loved food and would take the dare, breath reeking the rest of the afternoon to my brother’s sheer delight. As kids, we used to find garlic chives, morel mushrooms, and fiddlehead ferns growing wild throughout a twenty acre dairy farm pasture and the dense woods along its perimeter. They were sure signs of spring and arrived each year like clockwork.
Later on Saturday I came across these ingredients again. I made a quick trip to Whole Foods and found crates of ramps and fiddleheads stacked in the produce section (few people were buying). Large bundles of white asparagus were on display as well. I was tempted, but stayed focused on what I needed (two loaves of sourdough) and made my way to the exit.
So, imagine how pleased I was today to find three wonderful, local, in-season ingredients waiting to be finished for our meal along with several other accompaniments. These included a batch of artichokes roasting, cipollini onions sautéing and golden beets sautéing with garlic. After an hour of visiting while the sirloin finished, the meal was nearly complete. The morels were completed with cognac and veal glace, sea salt and fresh pepper while the golden beets and garlic, on low heat, became tender, caramelized and sweet. He roasted a small batch of fingerling potatoes with rosemary as well to round out the meal. When all was set, I took an end-cut of the sirloin, topped it with two succulent morels and a liberal portion of veal glace, a scoop of golden beets, an artichoke, three potatoes, an onion, a half-dozen white asparagus and a small spoonful of fiddleheads. Within minutes we were seated and within another twenty, sated. Sunday dinner the way it should be!