Taconic Bay scallops, cucumber and leeks; tomatoes, basil


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.