Spring has come to Saskatoon*!
The past winter has been harsh. It started earlier than usual, lasted longer than usual and saw the worst winter storm in thirty years. Finally spring has arrived, and with it the fresh bounty of a new year.
Three weeks ago, I was able to gather fresh chives from my garden. It may not seem like much, but after months of produce shipped to local grocery stores, it is a real delight.
The following week, the Saskatoon Farmers Market had fresh fiddleheads. Fiddleheads taste somewhat like asparagus and somewhat like artichokes. They are delicious parboiled and served with butter or made into dishes like risotto. Also, Pat made the first Rhubarb Crisp of the season, with fresh stalks from our yard.
I have planted this season's herb garden. There is nothing nicer than being able to go outside and grab a handful of fresh herbs for the dish you're cooking. This summer, we will have basil, rosemary, bay, marjoram, Greek oregano, regular and lemon thyme, mint, curly and Italian parsley, and sage. I plan to try battering and deep frying the sage leaves, which is an Italian trick.
In a few weeks, there will be fresh morels and chanterelles from the the northern forests. Time for mushroom purses made with fresh shallots and thyme with cream cheese, wrapped in phyllo.
And then creamy soft new potatoes, so fresh you can taste the earth they were grown in. You hear about the terroir of great wines, but the prairie earth taste of a new potatoes in a Salade Nicoise, on the deck on a warm summer evening! Delightful!
Another week or two, and we will have fresh tomatoes. Slice some of those, along with some bocconcini from the Bulk Cheese Warehouse, drizzle with a little olive oil and a few drops of balsamic vinegar made in the traditional method by Venturi-Schulze Vineyards on Vancouver Island, garnish with a chiffonade of fresh basil from herb garden and you have the best Insalata Caprese this side of the Mediterranean. As far as I know, Venturi-Schulze is the only North American producer of traditional balsamic.
Soon the fruit trees in our yard will bear fruit, and Saskatoon Berries will be ready to make into pies and crisps or just served on fresh ice cream.
Winter was long, but this year's rewards will taste twice as sweet because of it.