Zen Garden

That’s pork belly braised in the last of the maple sap with pho spices, then removed and the liquid strained and reduced to somewhere in the happy medium between stock and syrup. Underneath, freshly dug parsnips—early spring’s great treat, and maple’s perfect partner—steamed with yogurt whey and then puréed in it underneath, and alongside kale sautéed with some of last summer’s mirepoix from the freezer and a vibrant pesto of escarole and sunflower seeds. Chervil, the earliest (and latest; it’s indestructible by frost) of the domesticated herbs, made a fitting garnish. I reduced the rest of the liquid down to a thick caramel for use in various future nefariousness. This was a good dinner: contemplative and subtle, but also revelatory. This time of year, when fresh food becomes available again, is conducive to flavor experiences more profound than any other time.

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One Comment

  1. April 16

    If I squint a little this dish looks a tiny bit like Quique DaCosta’s “Living Forest”. I think you’re right that early spring is pretty terrific for marrying some of the heavy wintry ingredients with the new fresh stuff. I think a lot of people are just ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater and go for lighter dishes straight away without thinking about how to cook with the shoulder season.

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