Thursday, May 22, 2008
Years ago on one of the Spanish language TV channels there was a telenovela called Mariana de la Noche. I never saw it but apparently its logo included a scene where Mariana swept through a flowery landscape by night. The connection was soon made in the kitchen and I, myself, became Marianna de la Noche each evening. Modern Spanish is as changeable and adaptable as is English, so now we have a verb "marianar". Voy a marianar means I'm leaving to pick honeysuckle flowers and drink beer along the bike path.
Voy a marianar almost every night right now. There is such a profusion of flowers this year that I haven't had to go to any of my alternative sights to collect them. Different types, bloom at different times and have different habits. The first one is usually a large single pure white blossom that seems to prefer a bit of shade. They pull away from the stem easily. Next come the pink throated variety. It has the strongest fragrance and it tends to bloom in pairs that are also easily picked. Then the clustering varieties begin. These are more troublesome because they are usually smaller and the open blooms are mixed among unopened buds and leaves. At the Merritt Mill Road end of the bike trail is a particularly brittle grove of these whose vines break off when you try harvest them. Right now, all these varieties are overlapping. I've gotten very, very good at spotting them in dim light. I can also see them out of the corner of my eye when whizzing by on my bicycle. One of my prime clumps has an infestation of weevils this summer, something I've never encountered before.
I've been able to keep up with the demand for sorbet so far this year. Not so almost everything else. In my last post, I mentioned the need for industrial quantities of ingredients. This week that was an understatement. Every year the combination of honeysuckle sorbet and soft shelled crabs causes a surge, but this year the public has arrived with particular fury. We ran through all of our grilled asparagus every night. We have enough scallops, but I have to keep running to the tienda
for more hominy. The cheese plate changed constantly as one variety had to be replaced by another. We even twice ran out of the once shunned celery root and country ham salad. I had found pretty cauliflower at the Farmers' Market on Saturday and we served it in an herby vinaigrette. One night only. One thing that I always have plenty of, however, is the wonderful mix of flowers, herbs and greens that I get each week from Cathy Jones and Michael Perry at Perrywinkle Farms. It goes into our salads all season and it changes throughout the season as well. I can't remember how many years I've been using this, but I always look forward to it.
posted by Bill Smith at 9:31 AM