Monday, March 10, 2014
I had two of the best preparations made with locally sourced ingredients available now at farmers’ markets. These were freshly foraged ramps and fiddleheads beautifully prepared by Chef Abby Harmon at her wonderful restaurant, Caiola’s.
The ramps were put into a savory pudding that Harmon makes quite often with various other ingredients like lobster, crab or whatever her whimsy. They’re folded into a luscious bread pudding, giving ramps center stage as the main ingredient, so sweet and creamy in its devise.
As for the fiddleheads, generally not my favorite spring green, they were sautéed in white wine and butter with Yukon gold potatoes and crispy bacon. This was a great dish and has made me reconsider fiddleheads because these were a wonderful rendition.
The other springtime favorite, asparagus, is still in very short supply as our cool weather continues; and it has not become a widely available restaurant dish yet. A few of the farmers, though, have some at the Wednesday and Saturday markets. If you don’t get to either market by early morning, you’ll miss these spears because whatever is there sells out fast.
Rosemont Market, however, seems to have a secret stash in abundance from an unnamed source, which only says “from Maine” as its provenance.
Asparagus are best prepared simply--roasted, grilled, sauteed or steamed. But the other day I followed a Bobby Flay recipe in his new book, Barbecue Addiction. It calls for grilling them very quickly over hot goals or a gas fire then rolling them in olive oil, Sherry vinegar, figs and Roquefort. Figs are not available now (soon, though) and the dish was great without them.
See the dishes mentioned below:
At Caiola's, a luxurious preparation of ramps in a rich bread pudding
Fiddleheads paired with Yukon gold potatoes and crispy bacon in a white-wine sauce
Here are a few scenes at the Saturday Portland Farmer's Market:
Radishes are plentiful at the farmer's market in Portland
Locally grown tulips are in great supply at the markets
Rhubarb at Uncle's Farm Stand at the Portland Saturday Farmer's Market
After the markets, a trip to Scratch Baking for their spring-inspired party cupcakes
John Golden has written about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for Downeast magazine, the Boston Globe, Cottages and Gardens magazine, Gourmet magazine, Cuisine magazine, the New York Times and the New York Post.
In his highly opinionated blog, John reports on his experiences dining out all over Maine and his visits with food personalities, farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state.