Despite the fact that it looks fairly glacial around these parts, signs of the impending thaw can be seen everywhere. Actual bare ground is visible at the edges of roads, where the plow scraped wide and the sun-warmed asphalt shares the love with a slightly broader margin every day. Even a winter as mighty as this one can’t fight the light; it’s reaching spots that haven’t felt it since around Columbus Day. The upside to these arctic days we’ve been saddled with has been the cleanest, clearest air on the planet: cloudless, endless azure framing a sun that gets higher and warmer every day.
The Fish & Game fall newsletter is out today. I spent a pretty rewarding October on several short trips to gather images and information for this, and by extension for the book: a short flight up the river to Hudson at between 500 and 1500 feet for some foliage shots, an overnight jaunt to Ithaca for the grain piece, and a lovely three days in Portland, Maine meeting and photographing some shellfish farmers and the wholesaler who provides the restaurant with such sterling seafood.
Going back to 2008, I have made 10-course extravaganzas for Thanksgiving: balls-out, unfettered freestyling wherein my imagination runs wild and my skills try their best to realize the perfervid visions and tie it all together. They’re all documented here on the blog, including the one that won me a trip to France. I have enjoyed cooking every one of them. But this year I wasn’t feeling it, so I took it easy. No manic list-making, no frantic days of prep beforehand, no careful curation of the trajectory from course to course. I bought a goose, and I used the homegrown produce on hand to round it out into a meal.
I was taking pictures at Fish & Game on Sunday, and they had a giant puffball in the kitchen that they were running as a bar snack: brushed with olive oil, grilled, and served with lamb sausage and a scallion-chili salad. Zak gave me a couple of slices to take home, because as I ate one of the soft, slick slices it occurred to me that the mushroom could out-wonder Wonder bread as a grilled cheese substrate.