Thursday, April 26, 2007

In-Season In Tallahassee: Pretty Things for Your Plate and Palate

These garlic blossoms and some extra sweet sugar snap peas adorned Turkey Hill Farm's table at the Lake Ella Grower's Market on Wednesday. Both went into a stir-fry along with some radishes and radish tops. Tough outer sheaths removed and cooked until barely tender, the garlic blossoms' texture reminded me of fiddlehead ferns.

A few weeks ago, I bought some garlic bulbs from a grower at the market who gave me a couple of sprouted garlic toes and instructions for planting them. He explained that the flowers should be removed when they appear next year: "You're not growing flowers, you're growing garlic." SO, if you grow your own garlic, be sure to eat this lovely, delicious little by-product.

Loquats are also in season. They're hanging in heavy bunches from trees in back yards all over Tallahassee. You aren't likely to find them in any grocery stores -- they oxidize very quickly and are highly perishable.
They're also a fiddle to eat -- homely skins and chambered large, toxic seeds leave a small layer of delectable, sweet-tart flesh. The flesh is pulpy with a flavor resembling citrus, peach, and plum.

I had the good fortune of being able to harvest loquats from a neighbor's tree. Google turned up recipes for loquat jelly, wine, fruit syrup, sorbet, fruit sauce, and ice-cream. I even saw a recipe for a "detoxifying" honey-suckle and loquat soup (be careful, though -- honeysuckle is actually poisonous). I made some loquat syrup by blanching, peeling, and seeding the loquats before cooking the juice and pulp down with sugar and lemon juice.

You might do well to simply pick a bowlful of loquats and give them a quick wash before floating them in a large bowl of ice-water. Find your favorite outdoors spot and settle down for some sweet nibbling and day-dreaming.

Blackberries are coming! Thanks for the tips on where to find them. A walk along a roadside verge, footpath, or woodland clearing easily yields a small handful now but not enough for a pie, unless you're really determined! Sarahkeith picked a large bowlful at the Miccosukee Greenway, for her guests at last weekend's Slow Food Tallahassee potluck.

In-season Alchemy: Pair the loquats with the blackberries for a visually striking seasonal treat. Through my experimentation, I stumbled upon a trio of in-season local flavors so heavenly that I feel compelled to jealously guard them. As a compromise, I'll hoard my methods and give you the main ingredients to play with: loquats, blackberries, and honey.

Sweet-Grass Dairy Market Day: April 28th -- this Saturday. Culinary heaven and a terrific family outing. Buy some chevre (or any of their cheeses, for that matter) to enjoy with local honey, loquats, and blackberries!


downtown guy said...

Loquat season is always one of my favorites. I'm also keeping a close eye on the mulberry tree behind my house - loaded, but not yet ripe!

Food and Brew Love said...

OOOH Mulberries! I've never tasted one, but hope to do so soon: a contractor who is doing some house repairs for me told me today that his tree is loaded with mulberries -- he said he'd bring some to me (Lucky me!!!)

Do you just pick them and eat them while people-watching from your high-traffic vista?

downtown guy said...

Yep, they're all over town. I eat a handful every time I pass a ripe tree. I've never managed to pick enough to actually make cobbler or anything, because I eat as fast as I harvest (and most of the time, as a berry-eatin kid, I was up in someone else's lawn). I plan to strip that tree behind my place, if I can get to it before the birds.

I could never hide my mulberry thievery from my mom, either, as a young'un - my purple mouth and purple soles of my feet gave me away every time.