Thursday, September 2, 2010

Late Summer Locavore's Produce Picks from Headhouse Farmer's Market & Our Garden

Last Sunday Headhouse Market was buzzing with high-summer produce. Culton has his humongo-watermelons on display yet again - this time I remembered to snap a picture. You can also see the sign for heirloom Lima Beans, which was one of many veggies that we picked up from his stall.

First the watermelon, now this? Look at the size of Culton's beans! What is he feeding his plants?

The variety was Dr. Martin's, apparently a famously delicious version of the lima bean or butterbean as Elizabeth knows it. Ususally gargantuan versions of fruit and produce just taste awful or bland, but these beans had all the sweet, satisfying flavor of a regular butterbean, along with a meatier texture & a fava bean.

Here's a pretty detailed post about these giants. My favorite line from the article?
They’re tremendously fun to shell, which can be a thought inducing and/or provoking exercise also, almost hypnotic and rosary-like if you're willing to let your mind go all the way...

Looks like they're not far from the's a pic of Elizabeth happily shelling away! 

In addition to Culton's always fresh offerings, we picked another 5 pounds of grapes from our grapevine; with some many sweet and ripe bunches coming off the vine, we're struggling to come up with good savory recipes that use seeded grapes.

Also from our garden, we've got a bumper crop of Roma tomatoes - this is what's left of at least 2 dozen fruit that our four plants have put out thus far.  Elizabeth cooked them down into a sauce, which would be used for some Eggplant Parmesan. The oregano, parsley and basil that was used to season the sauce all came right from the garden as well.

The eggplant, also purchased from Tom Culton, were peeled, sliced into rounds, soaked in milk and then breaded and lightly fried in a shallow pan.  It was pretty standard stuff from there - layered in a casserole dish with some homemade goat-cheese that we've been making with raw milk from Fair Food Farmstand, then smothered in tomato sauce from our Romas and dusted with Parm. Reggiano.

350 degree over for 30-40 minutes. Once the eggplant cooked through, Elizabeth topped each piece with some Di Bruno Bros. fresh mozzarella and then broiled them to gooey perfection.

Although this version of eggplant parm was really, really good, what made it taste that much better was knowing that, with the exception of the Parmesan, all of the ingredients came with a locavorian's pretty easy to pull something like this off in high Summer, as the ingredients speak for themselves.

Bye Bye BYOB @ Fat Salmon

Spider Roll - Softshell Crab & Lettuce

I had heard that Fat Salmon, the novelty sushi bar on 7th & Walnut, was about to start-up it's license to sell alcohol on Sept 1st, so we took a few summer brews and a bottle of wine along last Friday night the celebrate the waning days of a great BYOB situation.

After happily uncorking our wine bottle, the waitress confirmed that this was the last weekend for BYOB dining.

After drifting around the menu of signature rolls, we decided to do some research on a few of the rolls that included cooked components in case we wanted to do sushi with any less adventurous diners in the future.

The shumai were just as good as I had hoped after hearing about them in the Adam Erace's review of Fat Salmon. Tender skins, surrounding juicy nuggets of shrimp..these were so tasty on their own they didn't even need the spicy sauce that accompanied them.

The seaweed salad was your basic affair...a decent side with enough sesame flavor and seasoning to break up the sometimes heavier flavors of Fat Salmon's over-the-top rolls.

Miss Sake Bomb-eel, avocado & crunchy on top-lightly cooked salmon with tartar sauce

Miss Sake Bomb was a study in contrast...a rich eel & avocado roll topped with lightly broiled salmon & a dill-spiked tartar sauce. I was really hesitant about tartar sauce as a condiment - it conjured up memories of greasy fishsticks - but the dill and pickle were pronounced enough to balance out any over mayonnaise-y nastiness. 

Mr. French Kiss -crab stick with masago, fried shrimp & tartar sauce

Next up, Mr. French Kiss. Having gotten over my apprehension of the tartar sauce, we tried out a roll that featured crab-stick and crystalline-crunchy masago with a topping of tempura-fried shrimp & tartar sauce. There was a claim of bacon & onion in the tempura, which I didn't detect, and the shrimp itself seemed more breaded than tempura-fried, but nevertheless, it was a crunchy and savory addition.

Midori - cucumber, shitake, oshinko, gourd & burdock

We also had an order of a vegetarian roll, the Midori - a combo of pickled vegetables, gourd, burdock and shitake. We had never tried these veggies and ordered it more for the acidity that pickled veg can brig to balance out what was quickly becoming a very heavy sushi session, what with all the fried preparations.

I will definitely miss the 'affordability' of Fat Salmon in BYOB mode - out total check came to less than $50 - but the menu is broad enough that I can see coming back for more traditional sushi or for the flashy house-creations.

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