gray sole with tarragon ‘tomato butter’; chard with garlic

We had not been able to eat at home for 2 nights, so I already had all the vegetables I needed to cook last night. What I didn’t have was seafood, which meant I would still have to go to the Union Square Greenmarket. But the weather was horrible, with torrential rains beginning at the exact time I would have to head out. I decided instead to see what I could find at the Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market. It’s set up on 23rd Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues, each Saturday during the summer and fall.

It’s much smaller in scale than the market in Union Square, but it includes some very good venders/farmers, including, most important for me that day, the excellent American Pride Seafood Company.

There co-owner Glenn Bickleman’s iced vitrine displaced an extraordinary variety of fish and shellfish, an embarrassment of riches. I asked him what he thought I should pick (this is very much not like me). He suggested the swordfish or the tuna, but we had enjoyed both recently in Portugal and Galicia. His third choice was the gray sole, and it did look beautiful. I bought an even number of fillets for the two of us, at a very good price. They added up to just over a pound. It was more than I would normally want to serve, and it meant I’d have to use two pans, but I felt like indulging ourselves.

  • six grey sole fillets (one pound) from American Seafood in Chelsea’s Down To Earth Farmers Market, averaging just over 2 and a half ounces each, seasoned well with sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, cooked in a mixture of a little olive oil and a little butter inside 2 enameled cast iron pans over medium-to-high heat for little more than a minute on each side, placed on warm plates, some ‘tomato butter’ arranged on each plate between the fillets [the butter had been composed a few minutes earlier by melting some ‘Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter‘, then adding a little of one small shallot from Windfall Farms and a little green garlic from Lani’s Farm, both finely diced, inside a small pan, cooking gently until they had softened and had become fragrant, removing the shallot butter from the heat, allowing it to cool for 2 or 3 minutes, then tossing it with 4 ounces of halved orange Ontario cherry tomatoes from Whole Foods Market which had first been tossed with almost a teaspoon of chopped tarragon from Keith’s Farm, stirred gently, seasoned with salt, with a few drops of red wine (Chianti) vinegar stirred into the mix at the end]