Do you hear that? That silence? That vacuum of cold, noiseless space? That’s what my inspiration sounds like these days. I don’t want to cook. I hardly want to eat. Except sushi and milkshakes (though not together). I haven’t opened a book in weeks. I spend endless hours watching “Lost” on netflix instant, but haven’t mustered the strength to send back the discs we got at the beginning of February. If you need a visual, my inspiration looks a lot like the last sorry batch of sweet potatoes at the soon-to-be-closing Downtown Farmstand. That’s right. My main grocery store is closing. Local vegetables have forsaken me.
But then a glimmer of hope. The news of the Farmstand’s demise was cushioned by its messenger: I found out on Saturday when I ran into some familiar faces at the Nichols Farm table at the Green City Market. This Saturday’s market displayed the same-old wintered potatoes, squash, and apples... but the fellas also had bright green bags of shallot and leek shoots. These vibrant blades have pushed through the gray crumbly earth, bringing color and life to our table once again. Life returning to both our landscape and my daily routine. Spring, shout the shoots, is coming!
And so, alight on the wings of reunion with my farmer friends, we had a fresh frisée salad for lunch--topped with chunks of crisp apple, fresh pecans, lardons of City Provision’s incredible pancetta, and a grainy mustard, lemon, shallot shoot, bacon fat vinaigrette. The next day I featured the shallot shoots in a pesto, as Alex and I paused “Lost” to stream the official start of the Iditarod. On Monday, I started reading a book.
Still, it wasn’t until yesterday that I felt the joie de vivre return. I stepped into Pastoral for a loaf of peasant bread, a brick of Prairie Breeze cheddar, and a tub of cornichons. With the addition of one pantry staple (more grainy mustard), we were in grilled cheese by 5 pm. Crunchy golden bread, salty melted cheddar, flavor-packed mustard, and tangy pickles. Simple and delicious. Then, after dinner, on a lovely 60-degree March evening, I took my bike out for a spin!