Welcome to "Trout Caviar," an online journal that celebrates local foods and the people who grow, raise, make, sell, cook and savor them.
Our local foods are those that come from Minnesota and Wisconsin, but we're devotees of authentic flavors wherever they arise.
This is Volume 1, Number 1:
~Happy Fifth Anniversary Real Bread.
~A Tale of Two Tables.~Part One of The Year in Food 2007.
~Happy Fifth Anniversary Real Bread.
~A Tale of Two Tables.~Part One of The Year in Food 2007.
Michael Pollan has a new book out, In Defense of Food. I’ve read excerpts from the book and heard him on the radio espousing its concise and sensible prescription for healthy eating:Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
When he was interviewed on Talk of the Nation’s “Science Friday” a few weeks ago, he joked that, having boiled his message down thus, he could have published an index card, rather than a book.
I’m looking forward to reading the new book, but I have to admit I’m a bit behind. I just finished rereading the essay on apples and the curious character whom Pollan dubs “The American Dionysus,” John Chapman, aka, “Johnny Appleseed,” in his earlier book The Botany of Desire. Then I picked up The Omnivore’s Dilemma, last year’s best-seller. On the very first page I read:For me the absurdity of the [American dietary] situation became inescapable in the fall of 2002, when one of the most ancient and venerable staples of human life abruptly disappeared from the American dinner table. I’m talking of course about bread. Virtually overnight, Americans changed the way they eat. A collective spasm of what can only be described as carbophobia seized the country….
Spearheaded by such addle-brained regimens as the Atkins and “South Beach” diets, the anti-carb movement soon gained a juggernaut momentum. Pollan writes:
The blamelessness of steak restored, two of the most wholesome and uncontroversial foods known to man—bread and pasta—acquired a moral stain that promptly bankrupted dozens of bread and noodle firms and ruined an untold number of perfectly good meals.Never ones to follow trends blindly, it was during this peculiar juncture in the American gastronomic disfunction that we chose to open, of all things, a bakery. It was five years ago this very month that Mary and I started making plans for Real Bread. So, hey, happy fifth anniversary, Real Bread!
(Real Bread is our home-based farmers' market bakery in Saint Paul, MN: http://www.realbread.net/ )
As many of you know, this endeavor was started more-or-less on a whim. In early 2003 Mary and I were contemplating doing something new and interesting in our lives. Inspired by the stalwart vendors at the Saint Paul winter farmers’ market, we wanted to become more involved in the local food world. Baking bread was something I could do, and home-baked bread was a product one was permitted to sell at local farmers’ markets. We decided to give it a try, simple as that. We applied to the Saint Paul Growers’ Association, and were accepted. We worked feverishly for a few weeks to develop recipes and learn how to bake a quantity of bread in a 30-inch range and a 24-inch electric wall oven. We showed up at the first Saint Luke’s neighborhood market of the season in early May 2003 with as much bread as we could bake. I expected that we would sell out in an hour, raise our prices the following week, sell out again, and never look back.
Well, we brought home a little bread that first week—the first few weeks, in fact. We brought home, I would say, most of it, and we explored the possibilities of a sideline in croutons and breadcrumbs. That idea lasted till the first blisters appeared on my knife-holding hand, and it became apparent that the Cuisinart was woefully inadequate at reducing robust Real Bread into bread crumbs.
Those first few weeks were a bit humbling. We were on the steep side of the learning curve, and the market was slow to pick up with only a couple of vendors selling bedding plants and a Kettle Korn wagon to lure in the trade. Also, not everyone was completely won over by our stirring motto, required by state law:
These products are homemade and are not subject to state inspection.
Even we had to admit that, compared to “Just Do It,” or “Have a Coke and a Smile,” it lacked a little zing. It did, however, provoke responses, as from the woman who practically spat at us one day, “How do you get away with that?” The owner of a local bakery (we never found out which one) filed a complaint with the Saint Paul health department, claiming that we were “bragging” about being unlicensed and uninspected. There was no basis for the complaint, and so no action was taken.
By mid-June things had picked up. We gained new customers at the market with each week, many of whom we’re proud to call our friends today. We learned how to make more bread, and how to make it both better and faster. We came to know and love and deeply, deeply appreciate the work of the market’s real heroes, the farmers. We came to feel a legitimate part of the farmers’ market world from the farmer’s side of the table, all the while knowing that we are, in a sense, tourists in this world, visitors who’ve been graciously granted a place at this table.
In time we also had the rose-colored glasses through which we viewed that world rudely knocked off our head by the Saint Paul market’s management, and were happy to land on our feet in more simpatico organizations, first at the Kingfield neighborhood market, then at Midtown.
Over the first season at Saint Luke’s we did encounter the craziness that the low-carb fad inspired. Pretty much every week at least one person would approach our booth and ask us if we had any low-carb bread (oxymoron? did someone say oxymoron?). We steered them to the brioche, where some of the flour is replaced with butter and eggs….
More than once we had someone come up, beaming with appreciation at our display baskets filled with crusty, golden wonders, and say, “Oh, your breads are beautiful! I love bread! It’s a shame it’s so bad for you!”
Or words to that effect. Remember, this was a time when a greasy, oozing cheeseburger was deemed “healthy” as long as you wrapped it in a leaf of lettuce instead of a bun.
Remnants of that dark time persist, to be sure, but thankfully that is mostly behind us. Now we hear more talk about food that focuses on the joys of eating locally and seasonally, and much less food-phobic ranting. Folks in the “locavore” community might become a little obsessive in calculating the “food miles” that every single calorie they consume has traveled to reach their tables, but I’d much rather listen to that sort of thing than hear my baguettes described as the next best thing to arsenic.
Though the low-carb fad has largely subsided, that does not mean that all is roses and sunshine when we survey the national diet. In what we might describe as the American culinary paradox, companion phenomenon to the omnivore’s dilemma, we find ourselves at a Dickensian moment in the nation’s food history: the best of times, and the worst, a tale of two tables, indeed.
On the one hand we have what have been described as epidemics of childhood obesity, diabetes, and other ailments at least partly ascribable to diet. We have junk food and soda peddled in our schools, supermarkets jam-packed with products which are scarcely recognizable as food, yet which constitute a major part of the American diet. We have a generation, or two, of Americans who would scarcely recognize real food, for whom a fast-food meal loaded with fat, sugar, and unpronounceable additives is more common than a garden tomato, an ear of fresh corn, an apple. For whom the latter might seem foreign, distasteful, the former, delicious and desirable.
In other words, it’s the end of the world. We’re sunk, done for, there’s no help for it and no hope. The soulless corporate food machine is victorious, the zombies have won, and it’s curtains for us humans. Except…
Saturday night we managed to scrape together a little sustenance consisting of pan-roasted duck breast from John Wemeier of Bar 5 farm at the Saint Paul winter farmers’ market, served on a bed of choucroute—homemade sauerkraut (cabbage from Peter’s Pumpkins) rinsed and then braised with onions (Midtown market), leeks and carrots (our garden), a splash of wine, a bit of chicken stock (Lori Callister’s bird)—accompanied by seared apples (Denny Havlicek) and dressed up a little with a cider reduction sauce (Bob’s Bluebird Orchard, unpasteurized), filled out with Mary’s renowned spaetzle (North Dakota flour, Larry Schultz organic eggs).
We don’t usually eat dessert, but we do like cheese, and we particularly like Wisconsin cheese, so we finished up with un plateau de fromage, including a smelly German brick, beautiful, sharp one- and ten-year-old cheddars, as well as a “parmesan” and “asiago” that would be better grated and melted.
Overall, we survived. Sunday night it was more modest fare, just a smoked Lake Superior herring from Lou’s in Two Harbors (picked up on a North Shore jaunt just after New Year’s), with a French potato salad (pommes a l’huile) made with organic Antigo (WI) red potatoes, market onions, our own cornichons, a few capers (not so local), mustard, vinegar, grapeseed oil.
In other words, there isn’t a better time for food and eating in America. We have the world’s bounty for the choosing, and our local foods have never been more excellent and more various. New farmers’ markets open every year, the co-ops are booming, we have a plethora of superb local microbreweries, wineshops galore, a world of great cheeses. There’s even some decent bread around, I hear, if you know where to look….
So maybe it’s not quite right to say it’s the best of times and the worst of times. More like, it’s a world right now of haves and have-nots when it comes to excellent, wholesome food. And while it would be naïve and just plain wrong to say that hunger and poverty aren’t to this day problems in wealthy America, even in affluent Minnesota, what really separates the haves and the have-nots is not money but knowledge. It’s knowing where and how to shop, how to prepare simple, delicious meals from whole foods, and—not least—knowing that the satisfactions to be gained from this sort of approach to food and eating more than compensate for whatever extra time and trouble it might entail.
That’s the impulse behind this new endeavor. I suppose it could be described as a “locavore blog.” That’s an absolutely hideous phrase, isn’t it? And yet a rose by any other name…. The focus of this on-line journal of local foods will be celebrating and enjoying same. It will highlight the producers, purveyors, cooks and promoters of great local foods of this American north, and occasionally describe great local foods from other places that we encounter in our travels.
As is typical in the “blogosphere,” I gather, there will be opportunities for you to contribute, as well.
For this first entry, I going to take a look back at some of the food highlights of 2007. This week it’s memorable foods from a winter market in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, from a crab dock in British Columbia, and from our farmers’ market, the Midtown Farmers’ Market in Minneapolis, MN ( http://www.midtownfarmersmarket.org/ ). In following weeks look for features on wild foods (including the titular trout caviar), restaurant finds, who knows what...? We’ll just get blogging away and see where it goes.
Here, then, our gastronomic 2007 in review:
Goat/Chevron/Kid: Goat sounds too…goaty, I guess, and kid makes it sound as if you’re eating someone’s child (which you are, I suppose, a goat’s child). They’re marketing young goat as “chevron,” these days (which has its own problems, making one think of a gas station, not the most appetizing thing to have in mind as one tucks into one’s dinner…).
Labeling issues aside, young goat can be utterly delicious. We picked up a rack of goat at a winter market in Eau Claire last year. We did it on the grill just as we would a rack of lamb (it was just that size), and were very pleasantly surprised. We expected something a bit gamy, but the flavor was milder than a lot of lamb we’ve had. The dense, flavorful meat reminded us of duck breast, and of grass-fed beef. Now we’re always on the lookout for local goat.
I see we’ve just missed the Eau Claire January market, but there are still markets in February, March, and April. It’s a fun jaunt out to the Wisconsin countryside to liven up a winter weekend: http://www.ecdowntownfarmersmarket.com/winter.php
Dungeness Crab, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia: One of the things we’re desperately lacking here in the Midwest is an ocean. I mean a salty ocean, with shellfish and such. Lake Superior is lovely, it’s a great lake, even (that’s not just my opinion, ask anyone). And it gives us wonderful lake trout, herring, whitefish, ciscoes. But for a seafood lover what it offers lacks somewhat in variety, and it yields nary a crustacean worthy of the table.
So when we find ourselves near salt water (in this case the Strait of Georgia, that arm of the Pacific that lies between Vancouver Island and mainland B.C.) we always partake aggressively of the local maritime fauna.
By which I mean: We eat a lot of crab when we’re in British Columbia visiting my mom and stepdad, who live near Vancouver. We also consume our share of mussels, clams, spot prawns, salmon, etc.
We had a particularly memorable crab encounter on our last trip, this past April. We had rented a cottage on the island for a few days, and straightaway discovered the crab boats that moor in Ganges Harbor. We hit the crab dock our first night there and picked up four feisty crustaceans for dinner. The cottage didn’t have a pot big enough to hold all four, so we made do with various saucepans, kettles, woks, what-have-you. That was a messy, lip-smacking feast, enlivened by a couple bottles of lovely B.C. pinot gris. We cooked one more seafood dinner at the cottage, with halibut, spot prawns, manila clams and mussels, and when we dined out we tended to order—you guessed it—seafood, because, well, right out the window there is the blinkin’ ocean, and the fish is coming in fresh…what else would you eat?
Still, on our way out of town, we found we weren’t yet sated. We wanted to pick up some crabs to take back to the mainland, but when we walked down the cleated plank to the crab dock we found the boats deserted. Crestfallen, we trudged back up the slick ramp (it was the one chill, drizzly day of the trip). Our crests rose somewhat when we noticed lights on in the harbormaster’s office. We stuck our heads in the door and asked whether they knew where we could find some live crabs. The harbormaster was talking with another man and a woman. They all agreed the crab dock was the only place in town if the fish store was closed (it was; Monday). But wasn’t George just right out in the harbor? How many crabs did we want? Just four, we said. Well, he might come in for that. The harbormaster flicked on the radio and got George on the line. He was just five minutes away, he had fresh crabs, he could bring them in, no problem. Go over and wait by the seaplane dock, just around the point.
I don’t think many kids on Christmas morning are more delighted than we were as we skipped back to the car, drove the several blocks to the appointed place, and bounced down the steps to the dock to wait. It didn’t matter that the drizzle was now decidedly rain, and was blowing in our faces and down our collars on a stiff northeast wind. In a few minutes we saw the stout blue crab boat round the point. It made a circuit of the bay, picking up a few more crab pots as it made its way in to the dock, and we could hear the throaty roar of the engine as it revved after slowing for each trap.
The big, chunky boat approached the dock with far too much speed, it seemed to me, but just as it appeared a thundering collision was impossible to avoid George backed the engine and feathered the boat in so delicately that its side barely kissed the dock as it came to a halt. We could smell diesel exhaust and the fresh wet weather and the sea; and we could smell the rather less fresh aroma of the pungent, ripe bait fish that George’s companion Bonnie had been cutting up to bait the crab pots. They both beamed at us as they called good morning, and neither had many teeth in their smiles, and she was quite covered in chum. Such a picture, as they stood on the boat utterly oblivious to the chill and the damp wind, and we hunched and shuffled on the dock. They seemed absurdly happy to see us, and we felt the same in greeting them. We said we would take four crabs, and they threw in a fifth, missing one claw, for free. We thanked them profusely, we couldn’t thank them enough, we said, they’d made our day, truly. They just waved it off, said it was nothing, and they hoped we’d enjoyed our stay on the island.
We had noticed while on the island that some of the residents had edited their “Beautiful British Columbia” license plates (quite illegally, I’m sure) to read “Beautiful Salt Spring Island.” It’s that kind of place. Over the years a self-contained system of bartering for goods and services has evolved to the point where Salt Spring actually prints its own currency: http://www.saltspringdollars.com/specimens.htm
We cooked the crabs for dinner that night, and they were superb. The leftovers went into crab cakes I whipped up as an appetizer the next night, and they were the only really good crab cakes I’ve ever eaten—well, big chunks of utterly fresh Dungeness crab and little else, a dab of mayo, a pinch of minced celery and onion. And we found that when you fry a crab cake with a light coating of Real Bread brioche crumbs, that works out rather well.
Alvin’s Asparagus: Alvin didn’t grow it, but he brought it to market, and once word got out, the lines at his stall rivaled those at Creperie Mala. Alvin Schlangen is a pretty low-key guy. He can seem inscrutable; at times, he is almost inaudible. Over the past two years he has also become as indispensable to the Midtown Farmers’ Market as any vendor. As any three vendors, maybe. His products can be sporadic, inconsistent—I mean, would it kill the guy to bring a few more large eggs to market, instead of the ostrich eggs and the sparrow-size? It might not matter that much if you’re making an omelet, but when you’re breaking 20 eggs into brioche dough, it would be nice to know if the batch is going to make five loaves, or fifteen.
But I digress. Excuse my personal pettiness.
I would like to be able to use Alvin’s eggs in our products more often, because Alvin is a true believer in the local-sustainable-organic ethic. Over the course of the season his booth is never without interest, frequently surprise. Honey, cheese, “Amish butter,” organic berries, farmstead apple cider. It’s always intriguing to see what Alvin unpacks when he pulls in to the Lake Street parking lot.
But the highlight of the season had to be the biodynamic asparagus that Alvin showed up with in mid-May. “Showed up with” is a fair way to put it, because he certainly didn’t trumpet forth this bounty. Mary noticed it before I did. We were both standing under our tent, and there was a bit of a lull, and we were just sort of staring blankly out into the sunshine, in that stupefied state in which you will often find us at the market, when Mary’s head swiveled to the west, and apparently something green on Alvin’s table caught her eye. I think her mouth was gaping open, and you could almost see the torturously slow progress of visual information as it attempted to penetrate her exhausted brain, there to be translated into theretofore acquired recognition of said visual information, and thence traveling toward the cerebral language center, where…oh, all right:
“Hey,” Mary said. “Does Alvin have asparagus?” She didn’t wait for my reply before bolting from the tent. Instantly she returned, flapping her arms, looking kind of wild-eyed.
“Alvin’s got freakin’ asparagus!” she exclaimed.
“He does?” I said.
“Well…. Yeah!” she said, with further frantic gesticulations.
I’m not sure why she was so het up. Just, we get that way at the end of baking, sometimes. Eventually I went over to confirm the sighting. She was correct that Alvin had asparagus, but it appeared he had exactly five spindly spears. That was all that he had displayed on the table.
“That all you got?” I asked.
Alvin examined me carefully before slowly, ever so slowly, shaking his head, no.
I said, “Well, how much do you have?”
Once again he pondered my query, as if there might be some trick to it, forcing him to admit something he wasn’t set to ‘fess up to. Then, at length,
“I got about six boxes.” He turned and pulled from the van a good-sized cardboard crate, which must have contained twenty pounds of gorgeous asparagus. I suggested, diplomatically, that it might move a little faster if, say, people knew he had it. I suggested heaping a nice display into, for example, an attractive basket. He didn’t have a basket. I said I could probably free one up from our bread display. So I went and found a basket and, as the old farmers’ market saying goes: Just pile it high and watch it fly!
For the rest of the spring, as long as he had asparagus, Alvin was never lonely. It worked out extremely well for us, too, because what had been an ordinary bread basket at the Real Bread stand became, when it passed under Alvin’s tent, The Magic Asparagus Basket! I took it over empty each week, and magically it returned filled with the most extraordinary asparagus I’ve ever tasted.
This organically grown asparagus, from near Cold Spring, MN, was so flavorful, so vibrant, it was the very essence of springtime. It was so tender it required almost no trimming or peeling. When I was helping chef Mike Phillips prep the vegetables for the cooking demo he did in May, we started snapping asparagus, and it snapped so easily that Mike picked up a spear and took a bite off the bottom of one. I did the same. We reached the same amazing conclusion at the same time—you could eat the whole thing. We just cut off the dry quarter-inch on the bottom, turned the asparagus over in olive oil, salt and pepper, and onto the grill it went. It required all of two minutes cooking. In fact, you could have sliced it into a salad and eaten it raw.
We ate it week after week till there was no more. We steamed it, grilled it, sautéed it, stir-fried it. And when it was done for the season there was something else beautiful to take its place—lovely new potatoes, crisp, slender green beans, baby spring beets. We didn’t miss it because we had enjoyed it fully in its season, as we would the tomatoes, the sweet corn, and on.
We don’t miss it, but we anticipate it, now that we can see spring again, though distantly (yes, yes you can, just look a little harder!). We won’t have our heads turned by winter asparagus from Chile, or wherever it comes from. That would ruin it.
Some things really are worth waiting for.
June through October:
Creperie Mala: We got spoiled at the market this past spring. Every week, it seemed there was something new, something wonderful, something delicious and heretofore unseen at Midtown. A sheep shearing, Alvin’s brilliant asparagus, Mike’s cooking demo, and best of all, perhaps, the debut of Creperie Mala. (I would include in this list the foraged foods that we brought to the market this spring: cress, ramps, fiddleheads, wild mint. I would include those if I had encountered them from the other side of the table. Since I went out and gathered them myself, it wasn’t such a surprise to see them there….)
The reputation of the venerable French pancakes called crepes (or galettes, if they’re made with buckwheat flour) took such a beating during the “Magic Pan” era of Twin Cities restaurants that it has scarcely begun to recover even today. Leaden crepes filled with gloppy, flour-thickened sauces studded with suspicious bits of seafood, or unrecognizable under slag heaps of molten processed “cheese food”—even decades later the sickly aftertaste seems to linger.
Put that vile image out of mind, and imagine instead a ladle of buckwheat crepe batter that hits the sizzling hot pan right in front of your eyes, and as it is barely set, it is filled with a medley of fragrant vegetables—chard, leeks, peppers, sweet corn—and herbs—dill, cilantro, or basil, according to season—literally fresh from the market that morning, and then judiciously garnished with a handful of aromatic farmstead cheese—maybe an aged Green Pastures gouda delivered to the market that morning by the cheesemaker herself, or a Roth Kase gruyere-style cheese from the “Little Switzerland” region of south-central Wisconsin.
As the cheese just begins to melt a little, to meld with those perfectly tender-crisp vegetables, the crepe is folded—remember, you’re watching this happen right before your eyes, you’re ravenously hungry, the aromas are incredibly appetizing, you are, yes, maybe, even drooling, just a little, to yourself—and then slid onto a plate by a slightly crazed-looking woman with a pink bandanna over her head. That would be Mala.
You’ve been waiting quite a while for this, unless you’re a market early-bird, because there is almost always a line at Creperie Mala, and now you have your prize, and a plastic fork with which to attack it, and a cheap napkin. You move away gratefully, and I’ll bet you don’t even look for a place to sit before you take the first bite, which is so wonderfully satisfying and complex, it seems to wrap the whole of what a farmers’ market means into one splendid mouthful, and, and….
Well, that would be just about the best four bucks you ever spent, wouldn’t it?
Mala also made whacking good preserves: raspberry, strawberry, cherry, and--the very best--black currant.September/October:
Midtown Farmer’s Market Russet Potatoes. The season’s first new potatoes usually arrive with a certain amount of fanfare, those tiny, shiny, thin-skinned spuds that cook in five minutes and taste so wonderful with just a little good butter and salt, or a splash of olive oil, a scatter of fresh dill and spring onions. At that time of year there’s not much else on the farmers’ tables—snap peas, lettuce, some early cooking greens. By the time September rolls around, there is much more to compete for our attention. There is, well, everything: tomatoes, sweet corn, eggplants, brilliant bell peppers and multicolored chilies, zucchini and patty pan squash. Many of the other fall vegetables make greater visual impact—pumpkins and winter squashes now come in an impressive variety of shapes, sizes, and colors; Brussels sprouts on the stalk are always amusing in their suggestion of little cruciferous Christmas trees; prodigious cabbages, white and purple, can barely be contained in their bins.
It’s easy to overlook the boxes of dirt-colored tubers, the late-season Russet potatoes. For a long time, I’m ashamed report, I did just that. Maybe they seemed too supermarket-ish, too industrial-farmy. Maybe they simply escaped my notice in the pageant of late season market abundance. Whatever the reason, I won’t let it happen again. The Russets we purchased from various Midtown vendors were some of the best potatoes we’ve ever had. And we really appreciate potatoes. I’ve never thought of our region as a notable one for growing spuds, but these potatoes were creamy, nutty, slightly sweet, truly delicious and truly distinctive. They made me think of they way that the French often exult humble foods from notable “terroir”—a Bresse chicken, andouille sausage from Troyes, coco shell beans from Pampol. These potatoes deserved their own “appellation controllé.”
We enjoyed them most in baked “gratin” dishes, swathed in cream or simply baked to melt together with some sweet market cabbage and onions in an olive oil bath, but they were good any way we prepared them. The only unhappy part is that we didn’t buy enough; they’re long gone, and we won’t taste their like till next September.
(More on potatoes, cabbages, and other winter foods, recipes included, in an upcoming entry.)Among the other highlights:● Green Pastures farmstead, raw milk cheese, gouda- and havarti-style cheese from the Hedquist family in Carlton, MN.
● Sylvan Hills Farm organic garlic and shallots, from Jackie Kujak and Larry Diehlmann, Menononie, WI.
● Cheese curds from Ellsworth, “Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconin,” squeaky fresh, sold by Midtown’s “Cheese Man,” Gary Wray.
● Sweet corn from Peter’s Pumpkins & Carmen’s Corn, the best in the market, again.
● Denny Havlicek’s pears—though his apples are his main crop, and top-rate, these little crisp, sweet pears were a highlight of the season.
● Cooking demos by chef Mike Phillips of the Craftsman restaurant. At his first appearnce in May, Mike converted a lot of skeptical Minnesotans to the glories of grits and weeds (he said it was "polenta," but it was Hoppin' John's white corn grits; the weeds were wild-foraged ramps and watercress that he worked into a wonderful breakfast dish with the cooked, set, grilled grits and market vegetables and eggs). He earned the eternal admiration of all who witnessed him creating an aioli, the Provencal garlic mayonnaise using a mortar and a plastic fork (because, well, I forgot to bring him a whisk...) for the garlicky Bastille Day celebration in July. He returned in the fall to exult yet another humble northern food, sauerkraut, which he fermented at the restaurant, and at the market turned it into a choucroute garni of local products. Midtown's fifth year wouldn't have been the same without Mike's generous contributions. He made the joint seem, well, almost...classy.
Next week the wild foods, the restaurant finds, etc.
Eat local. Love your farmers. Cherish the earth.