You don’t have to look far to see spring vegetables on menus all over New York. But look for local spring vegetables, and you may find they’re AWOL. Unseasonal weather has put the kibosh on many area sources, and for chefs that pride themselves on local ingredients, it’s a problem.
“There are things that are delayed and may just be gone,” Chris Lee of Gilt told us, going down a list of missing vegetables: fava beans, fiddleheads, sorrel, nettles, peas, dandelion greens. Gramercy Tavern’s Mike Anthony says the reason is obvious: “Put your finger in the dirt. It’s cold and wet. No one can plant.” No one around here, that is.
The question is, will the goods eventually come our way, or might they just skip out altogether? On that one, opinion is divided. Galen Zamarra of Mas says philosophically, “Sometimes it’s just a bad year. Last year was a bad strawberry season locally. Nobody had them, the quality was poor, and the season was short. It could be like that.”
However Dan Barber of Blue Hill, probably the most conspicuous local produce man out there, is still keeping his head up. “It’s a dead zone now, but when the warm weather hits, the ramps and the green garlic and other things are going to grow inches in hours. When the growth comes, it’s worth it.”