The countdown to the first ramps of the year has begun. During the wait — a week or two at most — celebrate the emergence of zippy cresses and tender herbs.
What to Look For
Shallot cress is back! The first crop to emerge from the Gorzynski fields this year (rather than their greenhouses), it’s a bit battered-looking, but the onion-and-pepper flavor comes just in time to wake up those wimpy “spring salad mixes” ($24 per pound at Gorzynski, available Saturday).
When the good folks at Cheerful Cherry pulled some of their remaining summer fruits from the freezer to make juice last week, they had a change of heart and decided instead to impart some cheer by cooking up vats of strawberry and strawberry-cherry jam. Candy-red, candy-sweet, and full of the wonderful fresh fruit that Greenmarketers may recall from past summers, these old-fashioned jams are a delightful way to relish the anticipation of pleasures to come ($5 per eight-ounce jar at Cheerful Cherry, available Friday and Saturday).
The curry plants at the market (provided in response, the farmer says, to frequent requests) are causing some confusion among cooks; the small, pretty, gray-green plant does indeed have a mildly currylike fragrance, but its culinary appeal is limited and it does not produce the glossy, dark-green curry leaves frequently called for in Indian recipes. For those, check the refrigerator case of a well-stocked gourmet market or a store that caters to Southeast Asian cooks ($4 per —mostly decorative— plant at Hoeffner Farms, available Wednesday and Saturday).
Rabbits know no season for making rabbits, but they take well to cool-weather preparations like braising (see recipe) so if you’ve been considering making a rabbit, act now. The lean, flavorful meat is — cue the obligatory poultry reference — somewhat reminiscent of turkey, and no harder to cut up than chicken ($6 per pound at Northshire Farm, available Saturday).
Beyond the Greenmarket
Until local strawberries arrive in June, apples have a monotonous monopoly in terms of Greenmarket fruit. For a change of pace, head to gourmet markets for Kyoho grapes. The name means “big mountain” in Japanese, and these enormous purple-black globes have a Concord-like aroma and richly complex, sweet, juicy flesh unlike that of any seedless variety ($5.99 per two-pound package at Whole Foods). — Zoe Singer