If you like to eat locally and seasonally, you’re probably going a little stir crazy at this point in the winter. Unless, of course, you live in Florida, California or Texas and have access to fresh greens and other non-storage crops. In that case, count yourself lucky — and don’t rub it in!
The rest of us envy you, and are making due with things like leeks, carrots, potatoes, onions and squash, all of which were grown last season and put in storage for the winter. I’m part of a winter CSA and thankful to get these vegetables from a local farmer, but still, I’m looking forward to spring.
In the meantime, I’m eating locally in other ways. Like last week, when we put together the kind of picnic we would take to an outdoor concert, only we were at the kitchen table instead. Some of the ingredients came from far away, like the Maille cornichons from France and the Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. But others were local, like the seeded baguette from Udi’s, which we topped with MouCo ColoRouge cheese and ultra-thin granny smith apple slices drizzled with Colorado honey. While you may not be able to enjoy this exact cheese, chances are good you can find another delicious local cheese in your area. Not sure where to find one? Try a local specialty market, cheese shop or even Whole Foods.
The beauty of a picnic is you nibble on what you like, while your friends nibble on what they like. For me, that means mixed olives, good cheeses and nuts. Which is why the only dish I cooked — not even a “dish” really — was Roasted Almonds with Rosemary Fleur de Sel from Bon Appetit (December 2003). I started the almonds first, and by the time I’d washed the grapes, arranged the cheeses, spooned out the olives and mounded the shaved Black Forest ham, the nuts were done. If you decide to try this recipe, I suggest reducing the cooking time from 40 to 25 minutes. Also feel free to substitute the more readily available kosher salt for the fleur de sel, but use less than the recipe calls for. I started out with just 1/2 tsp, down from the 1 1/2 tsp stated in the recipe, and they did not seem undersalted.
Click here for the recipe for Roasted Almonds with Rosemary Fleur de Sel .