19 Jun2005

The last visit to the Union Square market with my sister last1was to shop for the “last supper” in New York. Almost everything used for the dinner was locally grown. What a great way to end a hectic but fattening trip to New York. First up, an appetizer of Long Island mussels with a shallot vinaigrette. My daughter has taken a liking to many shelled beings (clams, mussels, and even snails) so this starter was for her. Served on an interesting half moon shaped side dish that is designed to sidle up to your plate, the mussels were plump and very tasty. We had just a few mussels each because we had several more dishes to enjoy.

Next up were some braised leeks with a grainy mustard vinaigrette. last2My wife is a big fan of braised leeks and this dish was primarily for her. To make, simply buy very fresh young leeks, wash carefully, plunge into boiling water briefly to blanch the leeks, drain then sauté in good butter and serve as a starter or side dish. Alternatively, dress it with a vinaigrette made with vinegar, grainy mustard and some olive oil – serve this version cold. Either option makes for a flavorful, soft and delicious dish.

We couldn’t turn down the spectacular greens on offer at the last3market that morning so a salad was also put out for guests who were partial to green salads rather than the leeks (though in the end, everyone had everything…). The salad photographed here is made with wild baby arugula (peppery but not painfully so and truly babies not chopped up adults), sucrine or French baby bibb lettuce, and super ripe and super sweet grape tomatoes. I have had several salads in France that were delicious and I am guessing that part of the mix was made up of sucrine, the delicious and soft buttery lettuce.

By the time the main course rolled around, last4pants needed to be unlatched and the feast continued. We had two large roasted ducks that were moist and tasty. The ducks had been brined in salt water which has the end result of moister and more flavorful meat (don’t ask me the science behind it but it does work). The duck was served with a homemade orange relish or compote, mashed sweet potatoes with unsalted butter and the sweetest snap peas I have ever eaten. The peas were probably picked within the last day and they tasted superb.

Finally, to finish off the meal, we had some last5fresh local strawberries served with locally made crème fresh. The berries were leaps and bounds better than the “imported” mass grown berries from California but not yet the best the area had to offer. The recent frigid weather and rain resulted in a slightly watery berry. If the temperature turns warm and dry, the berries become little sugar bombs that explode in your mouth. I feel full just writing about the dinner. A huge thank you to our hosts throughout our stay in New York!!! Time to get some sleep and haul our wickedly heavy suitcases to JFK airport for the trip home!

 

COMMENTS:

  1. virgilio p. castillo says:

    The wild baby arugola you mentioned, are they the same as the rock salad they call in the UK (Rucola where I live which is Vienna, Austria))? Just like how you described them, rucola has a peppery taste. Tastes like wallnuts, too. Like the lily of the valley, they grow abundant in our garden. I should say I’m lucky because some of the things people find fancy grow wild in our garden and we tend to ignore them!Try next time your arugula and this soft buttery salad you wrote with pumpkin oil and balsamic vinegar and tell me your verdict. BTW, do you think arugula will thrive in the Phils.? I’ll try your duck with compote this weekend. I enjoy reading your writeups. More power to you.

    Jun 20, 2005 | 4:21 pm

     
  2. Marketman says:

    Yes Virgilio, you are lucky to have both lily of the valley and wild arugula in your backyard! In the last few years cultivated arugula yield these large, sometimes very bitter or alternatively tasteless versions of a lovely wild original. In New York lately farmers have imported the seeds of the wilder variety and pick them when the leaves are extremely young. They are much better than the commercial variety. Surprisingly, in Manila, there are a few adventurous growers raising baby arugula and picking them very small as well. The weather here appears to be too hot and if they grow too big they get too bitter. I once grew arugula on the window sill garden of my apartment in Jakarta, they were wickedly bitter and nearly inedible. I have never tried pumpking oil but am intrigued. Have to keep that on my file to ingredients to try. Thanks for your comments, I am always pleased to hear when a reader has gained something from his or her visit to the site.

    Jun 20, 2005 | 6:29 pm

     
 

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