Fiddleheads, peas, and strawberries shimmer, miragelike, in our near future but dont let them distract you from the bounty available right now. The market has never been greener.
What to Look For
The first spring taste of super-fresh local asparagus is revelatory. Nutty and verdant, it makes the Californian stalks seem watery and forgettable. Theres almost enough to go around now, so you dont need to be the first one at the market to enjoy delights like this recipe from Ta Pol ($4 per pound at Hoeffner, available Wednesday and Saturday, $4 per bunch at Cherry Lane, available Wednesday and Saturday).
Nows the time to enjoy sorrel, with its vivid lemony flavor backed by mineral complexity. Also known as sour grass, and used in spring tonics to refresh logy wintry metabolisms, when cooked the pointy dark-green leaves dissolve into a drab-looking, bright tasting pure thats perfect blended into a rich soup or a tart, cream-based sauce for fish ($2.50 per bunch at Northshire Farm, available Saturday).
Thick-cut bacon, soft, white sourdough, and crunchy greenhouse-grown romaine are in close proximity on the north-west side of the market, and theyve just been joined by Nine-Jays greenhouse-grown heirloom tomatoes, making that iconic trinity, the BLT, almost impossible to ignore. Organically grown in dirt beds, these are pre-season tomatoes with taste and texture, and they more than suffice in a sandwich ($4.85 per pound at Nine Jay, available Saturday).
Spinach has sprung to life in fields outside the city, and the buttery, velvety leaves are unusually free of grit since it hasnt been raining much (raindrops splash the crops with sandy mud). Buy an enormous bag of prewashed leaves (which still need to be rinsed) to make quick work of hearty spring salads hint: think bacon ($3.50 per two-pound bag at Cherry Lane, available Wednesday and Saturday).
Blink and Youll Miss It
Shad roe has been around for well over a month, but the less trendy shad fillets are not as easily obtained and the season is almost over. At P.E. & D.D., the prodigiously boney fish has been expertly filleted, so we can enjoy this tender, rich herring relative with comparative ease ($14.50 per pound at P.E. & D.D., available Monday and Saturday). Zoe Singer