It’s warm. It’s a relief. It has been a bit rainy, but then that’s Spring in Maine. At least this is seasonally appropriate warmth. The Winter passed pretty uneventfully in terms of cold, the grey gloom can be oppressive nonetheless. When it finally warms up consistently all I want to do is get outdoors. So what happens when the temperature rises?
Well, green things get planted in the ground. Our peas are about a foot tall, the taters are a good four inches up, and the first crops of carrots and beets have emerged. The tomatoes were planted last night. We’ve already had a salad or two of greens and our volunteer cilantro is quite out of control this year. A bed full of greens was planted last weekend, as well as one of shell beans, and a teepee full of pole beans. In the fragrant department we have planted all sorts of smelly stuff: Mignonette; Sweet Peas; Lemon Gem Marigolds; Alyssum and, coming this weekend, the Roses! We like to spend a lot of time outdoors on our patio during the Spring/Summer/Fall seasons so it’s nice to have a green space to surround us.
The other thing that happens when it gets warm is that we eat outdoors as often as possible. The grills get a good work out, as does the picnic table. We had folks out last weekend and the menu included stinging nettle pancakes, local asparagus (not ours yet), artichoke gratin, and grilled calamari. A slightly eclectic menu, I’ll give you that, but tasty nonetheless. The grilled calamari is one of my new favorite ways to cook those creatures. I do love me some fried calamari with tartar sauce, but honestly hate cooking with all that oil. What do you do with the oil when you’re done cooking? Cooking the wee beasties outdoors, lightning fast on the grill is a very close second for me. And way cleaner.
I found this recipe in The River Cottage Fish Book, another in the brilliant series from the British author Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. We’ve been importing the book from the U.K. for a few years, but now the title is available from an American publisher, Ten Speed Press (who published The RC Meat and The RC Cookbook), and we’ve got a pile of them here on one of the metal tables. Also newly in stock is the new Mugaritz book from Spanish chef Andoni Luis Aduriz. Published by Phaidon, who brought us The Silver Spoon and a number of Ferran Adria cookbooks, this is a lovely tome full of truly inspirational, and aspirational, food. Andoni is a bright innovative chef, part of the breed of Modern Spanish chefs who push the boundaries of the kitchen, and the plate. The restaurant’s website is phenomenal, we so need to go back to Spain… Also in stock is Sandor Ellix Katz’s new The Art of Fermentation, which expands greatly from his classic Wild Fermentation, for all you fermenting types. This weekend is unfortunately forecast for a ton of rain, so there won’t be much outdoor cooking going on at our place. But if you get the bug for a new cookbook, come visit Biddeford. We’re here Saturday from 11:00 to 5:00. We’ve got loads of inspiration for both the cooks and the gardeners.
A brief clarification of our hours. The doors are officially open on Saturday, and then by appointment for the rest of the week. That means if you really need to get a look at the new Mugaritz book and can only get down on Tuesday, give us a call. If we are here, you can come on down. Chances are pretty good that we can make arrangements for a visit. We are still carrying the best and the brightest modern in-print cookbooks from past and present.