Monday, May 29, 2006

Garden & Cooking update

Here's what our garden looks like now:

From the top, the giant, medium and dwarf sunflowers have grown the most. The milk jug is there to act as a hot house for the tomatoes, which have just started poking through the ground. On the right are the beets, which are growing very well. The various carrots are also growing well, and if you squint you might see the Walla Walla onions growing to the right of the carrots. At the bottom left are the peppers and basil, still not growing much. The right lower corner is our cilantro, which is also doing well.

So on Saturday, which is "gourmet night" at our house, I made a Pollo a la Romana and a variant of the spectacular Sweet Potato and Corn Southwestern soup (Moosewood Cookbook), using carrots instead of sweet potatoes. One of the garnishes for the soup is a lime wedge, the other is a bit of cilantro. I picked some of the cilantro from our garden as I plated the soup. The bite with the cilantro leaf had the single most intense flavor from this herb that I have ever experienced (and I grew up in Mexico, so I know cilantro). Ever. The meal was well received all around, but the star of the evening was the little cilantro leaf in each of our soups.

This made me contemplate further the new California cuisine which focuses on presenting the natural flavors of each ingredient as genuinely as possible. The idea is to take local ingredients, which will be presumably the freshest available, and pair them to attain the most "truthful" flavors. One of the Seattle restaurants, the Herb Farm, takes this approach to a logical extreme by serving mostly what they grow, and not much else. I have to say that I am a convert to this philosophy of cooking after having experienced my little cilantro leaf. Now if only I had planted sweet potatoes and corn, and lived somewhere where I could grow a lime tree...


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