Though nothing beats a warm tomato just plucked off the vine, I’ll eat canned tomatoes all year round, and frozen berries and peaches. But I really only eat asparagus in season, when it’s fresh and tender, not woody and tough. There’s a great new restaurant in ATL, Miller Union, that is doing this amazing little spring appetizer of grilled bread, a brie like “double cream” cheese, country ham and grilled asparagus. It’s all of the comfort of a grilled cheese sandwich, but with many, many more layers of flavor: smokiness from the ham and the grilled bread and grilled asparagus, creamy goo from the warmed cheese.
I was at Miller Union last night after attending the Vox Bee, a spelling bee fundraiser for Vox newspaper. Though I’d had two glasses of wine at the Bee–I wasn’t driving–I couldn’t resist ordering a Miller Thyme cocktail (get it?) at the restaurant. The Miller Thyme is made with gin, and thyme infused simple syrup, and “citrus fruits” as our server somewhat mysteriously told us. I’m assuming the fruits are lemons, but who knows. Maybe there’s some magical, mystical citrus tree growing in Chef’s backyard, because those Miller Thymes are pretty hard to resist…Even when you should.
I also had a fried softshell crab that tasted like butter, salt, and air. I felt so sad eating that crab, thinking about the contaminated waters from the BP oil spill. God knows if the ripple effect from that will ever end, and I’m aware of my complicity in the whole mess every time I fill up my car. It’s not enough to try and support my local economy and buy foods in season and try not to drive as much–but it’s something. A teeny, tiny pushing back.
I bought a whole bunch of produce at the farmer’s market in our neighborhood last Saturday, and we’ve been eating salads all week. I’ve got this salad bowl that my mom gave me 15 years ago. It was carved by some dude in Vermont out of a single piece of wood. Gorgeous, gorgeous, and it’s only grown more so with age. Years ago I dated a guy who worked with wood, and he went crazy over that bowl. Told me I needed to oil it, which I started to do, and now its developed a rich patina. (Oh my God, did I actually get to use patina in a sentence? And did I use it correctly?)
Salad tastes especially good from that bowl, even if it’s super simple like the one we made tonight: bitter greens, carrots cut into coins, green onions, tomatoes, toasted walnuts, and a great bloomy goat cheese from North Carolina. Just water to drink, in deference to my overloaded liver from the night before. We used to have these fantastic salad tongs that are shaped like hands and called “Edward Saladhands” but one of them got dropped (note the passive voice here) and broke. So now we have only one Edward Saladhand. Edward Saladhands and Miller Thymes. Puns abound in our lovely, broken universe.
Elegiac sentences aside, here are some salad pics. (And please know I am not unaware of the very unsexy nature of salad pics. Lord, what would my 17 year old self say? But also please note the dark brown of the bowl’s interior. It used to be about 10 shades lighter. Perhaps these pictures would be sexier if we all say patina as slowly as we possibly can?)