pasta, pink celery, spring garlic, habanada, coquillo, pinoli

Pretty in pink.

How did Americans get saddled with the celery equivalent of supermarket tomatoes or apples? It seems it’s for pretty much the same reasons, as I learned this week:

In the 1930s growers shifted to varieties derived from Giant Pascal, such as Tall Utah, that were more resistant, productive and kept well. This “Pascal celery” was also cheaper to grow because it produced high-quality green stalks without blanching, similar to what we eat today,…

[today] Just a few California farms produce heirloom or unusual celery. Martin’s Farm in Salinas grows Giant Red, an heirloom that looks like rhubarb, and Dorato Gigante, a yellowish-green variety from Italy. “They have profound, intense flavor only hinted at with the current kind of celery,” said farmer-owner Martin Bournhonesque.from a recent article in the Los Angeles Times

Last night we learned a little about one alternative, thanks to Chris Field & Jessi Okamoto of Campo Rosso Farm.

I think it’s a pretty spectacular illustration of what cannot be found in an the American supermarket:

And then the fun began.

(continuing while waiting for the spring garlic to soften)

  • one medium size minced shallot from Alex’s Tomato Farm in the Saturday Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market on West 23rd Street, heated, stirring, over a moderate flame in a couple tablespoons of olive oil inside a large antique copper pot until softened and fragrant, then one bundle of small Chinese pink celery from Campo Rosso Farm, trimmed, the stems cut into pieces on average an inch long, some of the more tender leaves chopped and set aside to be added near the end, stirred in and cooked until softened to the table’s preference and a pinch or so of some of the (now powdered) remains of some light-colored home-dried habanada pepper that had been purchased fresh from Norwich Meadows Farm in 2017, followed by the addition of 10 ounces of Afeltra Spaghettone (a long Neapolitan pasta slightly fatter than spaghetti), cooked only until al dente, along with most of a cup of its cooking water, stirred over high heat until the liquid had emulsified, the pan removed from the heat, some zest and a little juice from an organic Whole Foods Market lemon gently introduced, seasoned with some local Long Island sea salt (from P.E. & D.D. Seafood), and freshly ground black pepper, tossed with a dozen or so pitted Niçoise-style coquillo olives (Spain/Murcia, sweet, slightly smoky!) from Whole Foods and some of the reserved celery leaves, transferred to shallow bowls, some toasted pine nuts from Flatiron Eataly scattered on top, and sprinkled with more celery leaves, the edges drizzled with olive oil
  • the wine was an Oregon (Willamette Valley) rosé, 2018 Oregon Rosé of Pinot Noir, ordered from Erath  
  • the music was the album, ‘Dream of the Orient’, with performances by Concerto Köln and Saraband