roasted skate, tomato, mustard, tiny celery; potato, chervil

I should have halved the potatoes, to help them appear as sweet as they tasted.


Paul pointed me toward the whole skate wing lying in the iced tub, but I had already (almost) decided that the skate was what I would be taking home. One cooked with its cartilage, and, I think, at least some of the bone, is definitely more tasty than it is when it’s been filleted, and that means it’s very very good.

There was also something entirely new to our kitchen, a harbinger of spring, which is officially only a few days away, some baby celery, the first apium graveolens of the season. The crunch is great, and the leaves are less bitter than they are when full grown.

  • six Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods Market, halved, tossed gently inside a shallow bowl with less than a tablespoon of olive oil and less than one crushed peperoncino Calabresi secchia from Buon Italia, arranged, their cut sides down, inside a medium size glazed ceramic oven pan and roasted at 400º for about 10 minutes, after which one 20-ounce skate wing from Pura Vida Seafood, untrimmed, with cartilage and the bone where it had attached to the body wholly intact (although, before cooking it I had cut it into 2 halves, removed most of the bone and used a scissors to trim the lacy edges of the wing along the lines demonstrated in this short video) seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, transferred to the pan after moving the tomatoes to the edges, and roasted for another 15 minutes or so, when a mixture of a tablespoon of olive oil, half a tablespoon of lemon juice, half a teaspoon of good Dijon mustard, and more than a half tablespoon of rinsed salted Sicilian capers that had been whisked together just before was poured over the fish and tomatoes, the pan returned to the oven for 2 or 3 minutes, the casserole removed, its contents arranged on 2 plates, the tomatoes next to or on the skate, both garnished with the finely chopped stem and tender leaves of one small stalk of spring celery from Windfall Farms, small lemon quarters placed to the side of the plates
  • one pound of very sweet small pinto potatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, scrubbed, boiled unpeeled in generously-salted water until barely cooked through, drained [and although not halved although they should have been], dried in the still-warm large vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot in which they had cooked, tossed with a chopped very small ‘yellow shallot’ from Norwich Meadows Farm, a little Trader Joe’s Italian Reserve extra virgin olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper, garnished with micro chervil from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • the wine was a French (Bordeaux) white, Château Haut-Dambert Entre Seux-Mers (60% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Sauvignon Gris, 15% Muscadelle), from Foragers Wines
  • the music was the album, ‘The Twenty-Fifth Hour: The Chamber Music of Thomas Adès’, performed by the Calder Quartet and Thomas Adès, piano