Monday, May 10, 2010

We declare the farmers markets OPEN!!

Let us commence the celebration! (Get it? Let us? Lettuce!?)

Eric and I enjoyed a gorgeous spring weekend in Richmond; the kind that reminds you of the joy and bounty of warm weather. In fact, as usual for us, it was a culinarily delightful weekend all around!

After a night at Richmond's First Friday gallery openings, we headed over to Comfort, a unique restaurant and bar across the street from Eric's apartment that features soothing, classic southern food. I'm not talking fried chicken and biscuits, though. The menu changes weekly and features local pork belly or wild tile fish or 1/2 roasted chicken with 2 or 3 sides. It was late, so we shared friend green tomatoes and two sides: braised collards and mac and cheese. We agreed that the best way to eat our late night food was to mix the greens and mac and deliver it to our mouths in mixed up forkfuls washed down by the BEST SUMMER COCKTAIL EVER. It took trips to four liquor stores the next day to find the right liquor, but we did it. Comfort called this cocktail something that I can't remember now. So instead, we rename it:

"Richmond in May (on bicycle)"

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/2 tablespoon sugar

small bunch fresh mint

muddle all that together and add lots of ice

equal parts vodka and St. Germain (about a shot each)

big splash very fizzy soda water

Give it a good stir and enjoy

We figured out that St. Germain is also decadent with champagne and there is a recipe for Pisco Sours with it thats on the list for next time.

St Germain is an elderflower liquor and the website specifically says that each spring the elderflower is collected in the foothills of the alps by peysan (a french peasant) on his bicycle and trekked to market. Isn't that charming? I wonder if its true...

Anyways. Saturday began early at the Forest Hills Farmers Market, which could also be called The Happiest Place On Earth. Seriously. There were guys playing banjo and singing "Goodnight Irene", babies with faces stained with fresh berries petting puppies. Even a big old hound dog that wanted love from everyone. And produce a-plenty. We left with some stunning red leaf lettuce, a bunch of scallions and the most gorgeous strawberries I've seen in a awhile.

After a trip to Ellwood Thompon's, a local organic grocery to get some rainbow chard and scallops for dinner, we dropped our treasures at home and headed to Pocahontas state park for a hike and picnic lunch. We were feeling aggressive: I had 11 miles in mind. But the pollen in the air had us beat and we settled for around 5. Just enough to whet our appetites for a healthy dinner and a cocktail (or 3).

Eric and I have recently become obesessed with all leafy greens: chard, kale, spinach, you name it (except for mustard greens). It's DELICIOUS and filling in a way that I thought only carbohydrates could satiate me. And so simple. And easy to change up! This weekend we made rainbow chard with the method below. But be advised that kale or chard are also delicious sexed up by being steamed with orange juice, garlic, raisins and crushed red pepper flakes.

Bring a small pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, get a nonstick pan heated with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add fresh minced garlic to sizzle. Add slivered almonds and mix it up with the garlic and oil. Keep the pan hot and sizzling. When the water is boiling, add your rinsed and chopped greens for just 30 seconds to a mintue. Using tongs, tranfer your greens right to the sizzling garli, nuts and oil. Pan fry for about 3 minutes adding any other flavorings you like. Parmesean cheese is a nice finisher, but we didn't have any. A note: you can also dunk your greens in iced water after they boil to stop the cooking for a moment.

Our dinner of scallops, sauteed chard and salad with tomatoes, avocado and scallion was plain and decadent at the same time: in the way that only a farmers market can produce. And it made us both HAPPY! Welcome spring :)

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