Monday, December 15, 2008

Market fare

The markets still haven't ceased to be exciting. There's still so much produce, and it still looks better than what you can get at the grocery store. One thing that's interesting (at least for us as Americans) is that both at the markets and at the grocery store, the produce is still predominantly from this part of France, (except citrus, which comes mainly from Spain and Corsica). Being a "locavore" isn't that difficult here, and you have a much better idea of what's in season.

Obviously the markets are dominated by root vegetables, cabbage relatives and citrus these days, but there are still lots of lettuces. I like this vendor a lot because they have a lot of different kinds of root vegetables, and lots of different lettuces. In the foreground of the picture on the left, you can see black radishes in a bin with carottes rouge (which, despite their misleading name are not carrots, but chioggia beets), golden turnips, and then in the next bin, topinambour or sunchokes/ Jerusalem artichokes. It reminds me of Green Acres. And, despite the fact that we don't have an oven, we've been able to take advantage of these root vegetables through pan roasting.

There has also been something of a resurgence in mushrooms, although it's still not like when we first got here. Here are a couple that we got a while ago when things were at their peak. This first kind is called lactaire délicieux, or saffron milk cap. I prefer the English name because I really didn't think they were all that delicious. The ones here are pretty young and very fresh. They actually turn green when bruised, and the last time I saw them at the market, they were mostly green. (You can see a little green on the cap of the one on the right in the front, but like I said, these were in really good shape.) People were still buying the green ones, though, so I guess that bruising doesn't change the flavor. I, however, won't be buying them again. They have a nice texture and stay pretty firm when cooked, but they have a strange mildly sweet flavor that seems out of place -- maybe it's piny? What's kind of interesting about these is that when you cut them, they release a milky-orange liquid. It's not a lot, but it's enough to coat the knife and to collect on your fingertips. And there's something about the coloring that does not get broken down by the human digestive system and even seems to intensify in the body. I won't go any further than that.

A mushroom that we did like a lot were these chanterelles grises. These had a good earthy, mushroomy flavor and they were nice in a wilted escarole salad with fresh croutons (courtesy of our France-aquired non-stick pan) alongside some squash soup. It was a really nice fall meal. Not that you'd be able to tell from the pictures. We're still working on the food photography. And our weird octagonal black glass plates don't help the situation.

One thing that's not in season anymore that we just caught the end of when we first got here were currants. A couple of vendors had them approximately twice, and then they were gone. These beautiful little red jewels were really tart so James had the great idea to mash them up with honey. Then we served them over faisselle, which is a fresh cheese that actually tastes more like greek yogurt than cheese. On a day like today, when it rained really hard all day long and only stopped raining about an hour ago, it's nice to remember summery things.


Jessica said...

I have so much to catch up on!!!

Anonymous said...

I got caught up on your Blog posts today. The apartment brings back memories of the first apartment Patty and I had in Morgantown, WV - small but cozy. It was all the room we needed.

I think I'll have to come over for a visit to sample the delicious-looking food you guys are preparing.


Darren Everson said...

J'ai un question!

I'm a big fan of Mr. Spots. You know -- wings, Philly steak-and-cheese, that sort of thing. Have you come across any guilty eatery like that in your travels?

Also: Hello!

--d. everson