sea bass, wine-cap mushrooms, herbs; tomatoes, tarragon

This dinner was mostly assembled in my mind over about half an hour at the Union Square Greenmarket today. It began, as usual, with a visit to the fish monger, that order to ensure the best chance for a good selection of the local catch. It was a Wednesday, when, unless I’m looking for local trout or shrimp, the fish seller is normally the very active stand of the Blue Moon Fish Company. This time I decided to treat Barry and I to some sea bass, which commands a premium price that its qualities actually deserve. It was already one o’clock but I was lucky enough to bag the last 3 fillets.

A few minutes later I spotted some foraged mushrooms at the Windfall Farms stand. They would make a perfect compliment for the bass. I couldn’t resist them anyway, for their beauty, and for their relative rarity (it was actually the first time I had ever seen these fungi).

I knew the main vegetable would be the 10 small local tomatoes I had picked up at the market 2 days earlier: They had been grown indoors (after all, it was still technically spring in New York), but they had now fully ripened and were already showing some maturity beyond that stage; they were unlikely to last another day.

I had also picked up some herbs after purchasing the fish, continuing to rebuild a stock depleted or disposed of before we had left for Portugal almost 3 weeks earlier, but until I started the preparations for dinner I didn’t actually know which of them would be a part of it.

  • three sea bass fillets (a total of 13  ounces) from Blue Moon Fish Company, seasoned on both sides with salt and pepper, sautéed for 2-3 minutes over a fairly brisk flame with butter and a little olive oil inside a large, thick oval copper pan, skin side down, then turned and the other side cooked for about the same length of time, removed to the plates when done (covered at least a little to keep warm until the sauce was completed), a tablespoon or more of butter added to the pan, and 4 ounces of foraged Wine-cap mushrooms [Stropharia rugosoannulata], from Windfall Farms, cut into medium-size pieces and sautéed, stirring, until lightly cooked, seasoned with sea salt, freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, a couple tablespoons of a mix of chopped parsley from Phillips Farm and lovage from Keith’s Farm, and a tablespoon or more of the juice of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, the mushrooms stirred some more before they were arranged on the warm plates
  • ten small indoor-grown tomatoes from Lani’s Farm, washed, halved, heated inside a large, heavy, high-sided tin-lined copper pan in which one sliced green garlic from Lani’s Farm had first been warmed in a tablespoon or more of olive oil, seasoned with sea salt, freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, a small amount of chopped fresh tarragon form Keith’s Farm stirred into the tomatoes, finished on the plates with some thinly-sliced green stems from the garlic
  • the wine was a Portuguese (Tejo) white, Casa Cadaval Padre Pedro Tejo 2014, from Chelsea Wine Vault
  • the music was from the album, ‘Mujeres de las Americas‘, works composed for clarinet, bassoon & piano trio, performed by Trío Neos, whose members are Eleanor Weingartner (clarinet), Wendy Holdaway (bassoon), and Ana María Tradatti (piano); the works are included are by Nancy Galbraith, Marta Lambertini, Marta Lambertini, Gabriela Ortiz, Adina Izarra, Georgina Derbez,  and Tania Leon