halfway between the bay and our table: Taconic Bay scallops in Union Square
this plate looks far more interesting than it should
Everything tasted good, but the dish wasn’t as worthy as the ingredients themselves.
Whether it was my lack of familiarity with the star, Taconic Bay scallops (their season awaited all year long, and the virtually worshipped by their devotees), or the fact that I was too concerned about including too many of the fresh vegetables I already had on hand, this meal didn’t match our expectations. I had also worried at first that there might not be enough on the plates, so I expanded on the presence of both the scallops and the tomatoes.
Still, I think I learned a lot. One lesson would include trying, in the future, to keep these beautiful little mollusks as close to their raw unadorned state as possible, either by preparing them for ceviche (I didn’t have the time last night) or with virtually no processing and using little more than oil or butter, salt and pepper. I had tasted one at the market earlier in the day, raw, and it was extraordinary (the last time I had a raw scallop was 30 some years ago, when a friend and I, becalmed while sailing off Watch Hill, were offered some by a scallop fisherman raking the bottom of the sound near us).
- Ten ounces of chopped Taconic Bay scallops from P.E. & D.D. Seafood washed, dried, and sautéed over medium-high heat inside a heavy tin-lined copper pan in a tablespoon of so of butter, along with one thickly-slice garlic clove from S. & S.O. Produce Farms, sea salt, pepper, and a pinch of dulce Spanish paprika, stirring until the scallops had barely begun to color, and careful to avoid overcooking them, removed from the pan and set aside, kept warm in an oven at its lowest setting, the pan wiped with a paper towel, after which, 4 baby leeks from Tamarack Hollow Farm (sliced lengthwise, washed, and dried), were placed inside the pan with a little more butter and sautéed until they had softened, seasoned with sea salt and pepper, the leeks arranged on the plates in a circle with some chopped cucumber (see the next bullet) before the scallops, now removed from the oven, were arranged inside the wreath of vegetables, and once on the table, drizzled with juice from tiny local lemons (‘limonetta) from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, and sprinkled with chopped parsley from Norwich Meadows Farm
- one Korean cucumber from Lani’s Farm, halved lengthwise and cut into bite-size pieces, sautéed in olive oil until beginning to brown, sesoned with salt and pepper, then set aside until the scallops had been cooked
- red and green late-season heirloom tomatoes sliced, dried, sprinkled with a little turbinado sugar, sautéed in a pan with a little olive oil until they had begun to soften and become fragrant, seasoned with salt and pepper, divided onto the plates, sprinkled with torn leaves form a Full Bloom Market Garden basil plant from Whole Foods, and finished with a little gremolata which had remained from an earlier meal and then frozen
- The wine was a California (grapes from the Sacramento River Delta with a small amount of Viognier from Lodi) white, Miriam Alexandra Chenin Blanc California 2015
- the music was the third act of Wagner’s ‘Die Walkure’, Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in a 1966 DGG studio recording, with Jon Vickers, Gundula Janowitz, Thomas Stewart, Régine Crespin, Martti Talvela, Josephine Veasey, Liselotte Rebmann, Carlotta Ordassy, Ingrid Steger, Lilo Brockhaus, Danica Mastilovic, Barbro Ericson, Cvetka Ahlin, Helga Jenckel, et al.
Blewits. They’re foraged, so they are ‘game’, as far as I’m concerned. Not an everyday find. When I spotted them in the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday I knew they were special, and that I had to have some, but I didn’t know what I was going to do with them. I only took about half of those seen in the picture above, so I wasn’t going to be able to stretch their goodness too far; I decided they would define a small pasta primi, and I knew just the one.
There were just enough to sauce a small portion of a good pasta, here a Sfoglini reginetti.
And then there was something closer to what most people understand as ‘game’ (or at least as close as Americans are allowed to come to eating ‘wild’).
I love quail. we both love quail.
For our secondo I defrosted 4 semi-boneless Georgia birds I had waiting in the freezer compartment, and roasted the last of a mostly-chicory bounty from Campo Rosso Farm that had been included in a ‘take home’ from a recent farm dinner at Untitled.
- two and a half ounces of foraged Blewits from Windfall Farms, chopped, sweated a bit, dry, inside a heavy tin-lined copper pan, before olive oil was added, a very small bit at a time, stirring, until the pan and mushrooms were moist with it, after which the Blewits were cooked until lightly golden brown, a very small amount of chopped shallot from S. & S.O. Produce Farms, a little sea salt, and chopped fresh sage from Phillips Farm after that, the mix cooked for a minute or so, deglazed/seasoned with drops of a good Spanish Rioja vinegar, and after the heat was turned off, softened butter added and stirred in until melted, 4 ounces of Sfoglini ‘Whole Grain Blend Reginetti’, cooked al dente, added to the pan, and tossed with the sauce, garnished with some more chopped sage
- slices of a delicious loaf of whole wheat sourdough miche from Bread Alone
- the wine was an Oregon (Rogue Valley) red, Foris Vineyards Rogue Valley Gewürztraminer Oregon 2014, from Chelsea Wine Vault
- four partially-boned (which is a treat for both cook and diners) Plantation Quail, from Greensboro, Georgia, purchased at O. Ottomanelli & Sons Prime Meat Market on Bleecker Street, dried on paper towels and rubbed with sea salt and most of one crumbled dried peperoncino from Buon Italia, placed breast side down over medium-high heat on a two-burner cast iron ribbed pan, a number of sprigs of fresh thyme from Keith’s Farm scattered over each, grilled for about 5 minutes, turned and, ensuring that they were now resting on top of the thyme, grilled for another 5 minutes, served with a drizzle of olive oil and a pat of the same composed butter served with the venison a few days before placed on top while they were still warm
- one medium head of radicchio from Campo Rosso Farm, quartered, 2 toothpicks stuck into each quarter to hold its shape, placed in a medium unglazed ceramic oven pan (Pampered Chef, already well-seasoned long ago), drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, roasted at 400º for about 15 minutes, turning once, finished with a small amount of balsamic vinegar, and, once on the 2 plates, scattered with shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano Vacche Rosse from Buon Italia
- the wine was an Italian (Puglia) red, Schola Sarmenti Roccamora 2013, our last bottle from our wonderful former neighbors of Appellation Wines, which was forced to close when their rent skyrocketed, and was unable to relocate a few blocks north because the State Liquor Authority ruled that another wine store in the area was not in the public interest
- the music throughout was Jordi Savall’s album, ‘Granada 1013-1502‘, recorded in 2013 and produced earlier this year
I try to bring some variety to my basic Sunday breakfast-lunch foumula of eggs, bacon, and toast. This time I may have brought more to the table than ever before.
- there were 6 eggs and 2 slices of thick bacon from Millport Dairy Farm; toast from 2 different bakers, ‘8 Grain 3 Seed’ bread from Rock Hill Bakery, Gansevoort, NY, and a whole wheat sourdough miche from Bread Alone, both selling in the Greenmarket; 3 small ‘tomato-red’ heirloom tomatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm; a bit of turbinado sugar for the late-season tomatoes; purple micro radish from Windfall Farms; smoked alderwood salt from The Filling Station; Baleine course sea salt; tellicherry pepper; 4 very, very hot tiny yellow chilis, Cumari do Para (they were the size of quite small peas), which I chopped very finely and immersed in olive oil, from Eckerton Hill Farm; green stems, chopped, of Japanese scallions; torn leaves of basil from a Full Bloom Market Garden plant from Whole Foods; part of a crushed, dark, dried heatless Habanada pepper from Norwich Meadows Farm; chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge; Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter; and olive oil (‘Trader Joe’s 100% Greek Kalamata Extra Virgin Olive oil’)
- the music was ‘Music for Queen Caroline’, an album of William Christie directing the Choir and Orchestra of Les Arts Florissants in 3 works Handel had dedicated to his patron, the Hohenzollern princess Caroline of Ansbach (later wife of George II of England), an enlightened and beloved patron of both the arts and sciences
The picture may be misleading. It actually represents 2 small sautéed skate wings touching each other on the plate, embracing some gently wilted mildly-peppery mizuna (aka shui cai, kyona, Japanese mustard, potherb mustard, Japanese greens, California peppergrass, or spider mustard).
L to R, the mizuna, plus mustard spinach and chinese mustard at the market
‘Bull’s Blood’ micro beet is the brilliantly-colored micro vegetable on the skate
(picked beet over these micro chard, mostly because the latter was so Xmas-y)
- four 4-ounce skate wings from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, coated all over with a coarse polenta seasoned with salt and pepper, sautéed in olive oil (and a bit of butter) for 3 minutes or so on each side inside a heavy enameled cast iron oven pan (the only difficult part of this recipe is turning them over without breaking them up), removed, about 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter, one small Japanese scallion from Norwich Meadows Farm, one tiny ‘red wing’ onion from Keith’s Farm, and 2 small cloves of garlic from from S. & S.O. Produce Farms, all sliced or chopped, introduced into it and stirred over a now-lowered flame, followed by the addition of a little more butter, the juice from half of a very sweet organic lemon from Whole Food Market some chopped marjoram from Stokes Farm and a bit of chopped parsley from Norwich Meadows Farm, stirring for a bit to blend everything, finishing on the plates with a scattering of ‘Bull’s Blood’ micro beet from Windfall Farm
- one bunch of purple mizuna from Gorzynski Ornery Farm, very slightly wilted in a pan in which a halved garlic clove S. & S.O. Produce Farms had first been allowed to barely begin to brown in a little olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and drizzled with a bit more oil
- the wine was an Argentinian (Mendoza) white, Santa Julia Viognier Plus Mendoza 2015 from Chelsea Wine Vault
- the music was Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s 1688 opera, ‘David & Jonathas’, a tragédie en musique which does not end well for anyone, William Christie conducting Les Arts Florissants [note; in its time, the opera was very big in Jesuit land]
I had planned on serving a pasta Friday night, because the Union Square Greenmarket being closed the day after Thanksgiving, there would be no fresh local fish. Then I remembered that, although it was hardly local, there was always wild-caught salmon available less than a block from our door.
I opted for the Sockeye; there will always be pasta.
- one 14-ounce wild sockeye salmon fillet from Whole Foods, coated on both sides with a mix of light brown turbinado sugar, sea salt, freshly ground pepper, freshly ground allspice, freshly ground nutmeg, and the zest of half of an organic lemon from Whole Foods, allowed to marinate in the refrigerator in a covered dish for about 3 hours, the fish then rinsed, patted dry, brought to room temperature, oiled generously, and cooked on an enameled grill pan, flesh side down, removed when the inside was not quite pink, the outside crisp and smoky, divided onto 2 plates, drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge, served with lemon wedges [the recipe is little altered from this one from Melissa Clark]
- two small Japanese scallions, sliced, and one heatless fresh habanada pepper, chopped finely, both from Norwich Meadows Farm, heated in olive oil inside a large cast iron pan until softened, then several small Korean cucumbers from Lani’s Farm, chopped into one-inch bits, added and sautéed until beginning to brown, seasoned with salt and pepper
There was a cheese course, this time with fruit rather than toasts
- the cheeses were, from left to right in the picture, ‘Bigelow’, a goat cheese from Ardith Mae; Consider Bardwell Farm’s ‘Reconsider’, which is a one-time event: a cow cheese finished in their ‘Manchester’ goat cheese cave; Consider Bardwell Farm’s ‘Dorset’ cow cheese; and an organic gorgonzola, casarrigoni from Whole Foods