Spring. What to Eat?
While the cult of locavore continues to sweep the country, those of us in Minnesota have hit bottom in terms of local produce. Most of the local root vegetables and cabbages that were cellared are gone. So, while we wait for our local vegetable bounty to pop, we still have to eat. Asparagus, once the harbinger of spring, is in full season.
Granted, it is not the especially flavorful, local variety, but at least it’s from California and not the stuff from South America that we see most of the rest of the year.
In my everyday job, I write dozens of menus a week, and many clients request asparagus throughout the year, so I end up straddling a very fine line of seasonal/delicious along with making clients and guests happy by giving them what they want. Like many chefs, I try very hard to gently educate my guests on seasonality. Some years ago, asparagus made the transition from a spring vegetable to a year-round staple even though it is not very flavorful, tender, or affordable most of the year. Maybe it's a misplaced sign of luxury to be able to eat what should be a spring treat whenever you want, but it still does not make it taste any better in January. My wife and I are lucky enough to have a wild patch of asparagus on our farm, and the second week in May is the beginning of the forage season for us. Asparagus is a very versatile vegetable that takes to all types of cooking methods. Try some grilled with olive oil then sprinkled sea salt and grated Reggiano.
In the coming-soon category, I overheard a conversation (of a very good source) at a party the other night that the former JP’s spot is leased, and we should see a new venture by the end of spring.
Speaking of JP's, I have heard from a few folks that Solera chef JP Samuelson was in Chicago this past weekend for a Top Chef interview. I haven't got a clue what the criteria is for entry, but he seems to be a shoe-in to me.
Rush River Brewing Company and The Dining Studio are hosting a beer dinner on May 9. The dinner is $50 per guest and will feature five beers, four courses, passed hors d’oeuvres, and the homemade soft pretzels with spicy mustard.