Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pre-seasonal Delights

Last week after an afternoon lesson with Bob Cannard, I set out with Hannah and Cody on a hunt for a couple of early spring crops. We had only just begun picking artichokes for the store, and Bob mentioned that our asparagus should start coming up any day.

We headed off, armed with boxes and picking knives, to "The Island", a few acres bordered on three sides by the creek the runs through Green String Farm. I was the supposed leader of the group, but I immediately showed my ineptitude by leading us only deeper into the vineyards while searching for the driest path across the creek.

Doubling back, we happened upon a beautiful old oak tree that must have fallen over decades ago and then decided to keep on growing straight up anyways. The gigantic L-shaped tree laid across the creek, but the draping of moss and lichen made it a treacherous footbridge, especially with all the boxes.

Brave interns that we clearly are, we made it across the tree without injuries or tears, and plowed ahead to the artichokes. In a sea of the big leafy plants, only a precious few were showing signs of flowering, so the three of us spent a half hour collecting enough for dinner.

We started searching for the asparagus patch, and only after a fair bit of searching did we realize that we didn't know what we were looking for, exactly. I called Ross Cannard for tips, and he said, "You know what they look like on the plate? They look like that, coming out of the ground." Given this seemingly obvious advice, we soon stumbled into the asparagus field. Lo and behold, the ground was dotted with little asparagus nubs poking their way out of the soil! We picked only six of them, leaving the rest to grow bigger for the next trip.

For dinner that night, we enjoyed polenta bake topped with beautifully tender asparagus, and a perfect little artichoke each. It's become almost cliché around the intern house to declare, "This is the best (fill in the blank) I've ever had!" These vegetables and eggs are always the best we've tasted. I chalk it up mostly to the way we farm at Green String, and to the freshness of the produce. (I doubt we've eaten anything more than a day or two old since we got here.) But something about having particular seasons for each food makes everything more special: that first bite of asparagus, after so long without it, tasted like a brand new kind of delicious. And then there's the sheer thrill of the hunt.

No comments:

Post a Comment