Lee Anne opens up about her love of spring.
One of the highlights of living in New York City is the fact that we experience all four seasons. I am down in Miami right now, and though I am quite satisfied with the temperate weather here, I am missing one of my favorite times of year in New York. It's funny, because we had an unusually warm early winter this year, and I remember one of my friends remarking around New Year's how strange and wonderful it was that it hadn't snowed yet. I said, "Ohhhhh....don't you worry. Old Man Winter's not done with us yet." Sure enough, bone chilling winds coming off the Hudson and East Rivers were enough to make me begin an official countdown for my trip to Miami. What I find hilarious year after year is the fact that the first warm day in NYC (and we're talking 50 degrees, not exactly sun tanning weather) everyone comes out in shorts and t-shirts. I get a good chuckle, "Idiots." After an entire month with bronchitis in December, I stayed nice and bundled up because days like those are just teasers.
Anyways, top two reasons that I love Spring? The greenmarket and my birthday. As a chef and food lover, seasonality is not only important but thrilling and inspiring. The most bountiful time of the year is Summer, obviously. Juicy ripe tomatoes in every color, fresh sweet corn, wild strawberries, ripe peaches, and vegetables, herbs, and greens that make my culinary wheels spin. Fall is also a great time of year, as the last of summer's flavors fade into the debut of other great ingredients, like crisp apples, a wide variety of squash, and hearty braising greens. Winter makes me want to cook rich, comforting foods like short ribs and cassoulet. To be honest, the greenmarket is relatively bare in the first quarter, with only a few root and cruciferous vegetables, apples, and cold weather items. Once Spring hits though, some of my favorite ingredients start to appear in the market: morel mushrooms, wild asparagus, fiddlehead ferns, nettles, peas, and ramps. I get so giddy just thinking of all the possibilities. Spring signifies the melting, and the introduction of all things green. And yes, eventually it gets warm enough that the winter gear can be left in the closet and everyone begins to get their "outdoor" on.
I love going out to eat. I especially love going out to eat this time of year. It's always fascinating to me to see all the different ways that chefs incorporate these ingredients onto their menus. I think some of the best preparations are the simpler dishes that let the ingredients shine. Be sure to try out some of my favorite Spring recipes listed below. Science says that we associate certain tastes and smells with memory. Throughout the seasons, all the tastes, textures, and flavors mentioned before remind me of where I am and what time of year it is.
Spring is like an endorphin rush to me, and I know that the Summer bounty is around the corner. Second reason I love Spring? All of that going out to eat is because of the month I spend celebrating my birthday. Many people I know make their resolutions around New Year's. My calendar is based around my birthday. Birthdays are important to me and I believe all people should celebrate accordingly. I like to take time to assess what I've accomplished and learned in the past year, and then set goals for myself in the coming year.
29 was an exciting year for me. 30's going to be even better. It's a time when I can get together with all of my friends I haven't had a chance to see much. We eat. We drink. We make merry. The weather is usually perfect and the air has an invigorating quality to it. I was born on a Sunday in the middle of May and have yet to have a crappy birthday (eat your heart out Molly Ringwald). In any case, I hope to get back to New York in time for a little spring fever. I'm seeing the deep freeze up north on the news every morning so Miam i's not a bad place to be right about now. For all you cooks and food lovers out there, Spring is one of my favorite seasons, and I hope you are able to take advantage of all the fresh flavors it has to offer. To my friends and family, I'll be home soon. Keep the pork buns warm for me. To tide us all over, here are two recipes to keep your mouth watering: English Pea and Morel Mushroom Risotto Roasted Asparagus Salad, Poached Egg, Parmesan Crisp, Truffle Oil