Front yards are overrated. Sure, it’s good to have some grassy space to kick a ball or toss a disc with the kid, but otherwise lawn is a waste of square feet and resources, especially water. Rip out the grass, run a nice fence around it, and build some raised beds, though, and you’ve got yourself a one-stop shop for food, physical activity, neighborly sharing, and epic curb appeal.
At the end of February, I spent a long weekend in the city on assignment for Food Republic, covering a couple of natural wine fairs, New York’s first. You can read the preamble I wrote beforehand, and then the post-game recap. Both events were gratifying, with impressive wines across the board and some terrific people and meals thrown in for good measure.
Colder weather urges cooking in a way that summer’s insouciant plenitude cannot rival. Now that we’re down to about a third of the garden, it’s all roots and greens out there (though bolstered immeasurably in the kitchen by the deep benches of pantry and freezer). Their flavor—the sheer information, the resolution and detail in each bite of humble leaf or root, sweetened by frosts and elevated to center stage by the departure of the tender competition—presents targets both easy and challenging. Easy, because a fat fall turnip needs little embellishing to glow, and challenging because families are wont to clamor for novelty when it comes to dinner.
The beauty of having both a garden and way too much visual art training manifests itself in many subtle ways, most of them involving dinner. This iteration of inspiration began with the radicchio, arrayed as plump and shiny purple heads in the chicory bed. After a busy day loading frost-leveled detritus into the wheelbarrow for trips to the compost pile, I took stock of what remained: a lot.
For the new issue, we’ve expanded the Fish & Game Quarterly and given it its own site. We have also invited some estimable talents to contribute, in several genres besides culinary reportage: fiction, photo essay, and memoir. Future editions will expand further, into art, music, dance, poetry and random works of sui generis genius. It will mostly have somewhat to do with food, but may also not. Enjoy.
Apart from a couple of gloriously warm days, winter’s death throes have been pretty assertively shitty. On Monday, the first day of sugaring, the sun felt warm enough that I was able to work outside for a few hours as I tended the fire and kept an eye on the sap’s progress so Danny could mix a record inside. The fire needs stoking every twenty minutes to maintain a rolling boil; that’s not a long enough interval for him to sink into his magic studio reverie, but it’s easy for me to get up from the laptop and throw a few logs in between sentences. And I obviously have my author photo taken care of, so there’s that.
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.