Friday, May 18, 2007

I can feel the weather changing but let's enjoy spring

cherry pitting time
Originally uploaded by the_jade_greene.
All of a sudden there are cherries everywhere. Last week brought the first flush of Al's cherries to market, and this week, as I was lazily thinking of ways to fix my polenta cake and wondering if I really wanted to do anything with cherries other than eat them raw, the cherries just started piling up. This morning, a 6 qt. pan slowly molding. By the end of the day, thirteen pounds more. I made a small batch of Cheffy's clafoutis base and used up scant handfuls making cherry financiers.

I have always though it funny when those big-shot savory chefs (like Tom Colicchio, in "think like a chef," among scores of others) discuss eating and cooking seasonally. Inevitably they mention the anticipation and excitement of spring's first blush(oh, ramps are coming! we've got the first snap peas!), which means something quite different on the east coast than in California no matter how locally you're sourcing your food. Maybe it was jealousy, or maybe just the pastry chef's suspicion of the ego of the rest of the kitchen world (so often it's their haughtiness that reconciles us to the background, and it's the rare chef who appreciates adequately her patissier). This Frog Hollow gig has always been intriguing because the one stated goal of the job was to use the fruit, and so I would be forced to rely on what the market brings in each week. With citrus and rhubarb there hasn't been much, but now we're talking maybe peaches next week and I'm already feeling the pressure of cherry season, the excitement of something new so tasty and the real urge to present it at its best.

My boss, Becky, came by today. She watched me scoop financiers and wash strawberries. According to my supervisor she was also going to work with me for a while, but this didn't happen. She seems content to let me do whatever, but I know she knows this fruit, as a baker, better than I ever will, and she used to work at Oliveto. She's got skills. When she tells me how to cook down the cherries in syrup to preserve them, I can sense the knowledge differential and I'd like to see sometime what she would teach me if she got into the kitchen.

This Thursday is the Cherry Festival! Free cherry granita at Frog Hollow and who knows what-all else. I really do love the Ferry Building.

Last night I had pasta with fiddleheads and garlic in a white wine butter reduction. It was good. Fiddleheads remind me of cold, almost wintry upstate New York weather, the day Jes and I went driving and got the maple syrup. I tried to epxlain fiddleheads to my french friend but apparently there's no translation. So I found pictures, which only left her completely flummoxed as to why I would eat plant buds, but not bacon.

Pigs are salty, I said, in reply. What I mean by that is that bacon is salty, but I have no memory of what pork as meat tastes like. I ate tuna tonight, for the first time. Shocking, I am.

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