Friday, June 03, 2005

Market Follow-Up
The Season's First Bitter (Big) Salad

Salt, sweet, sour, bitter. Eaters tend to rejoice with foods full of the first three basic flavors. Yet, how many diners do you see, pushing themselves back from the table, satisfyingly wiping their lips and say, "boy that was bitter." I mean, how many people just winced at the word bitter? Do not fear bitter. Two of the best things to consume are dominated by bitter flavors: chocolate and coffee. And lettuce, dressing tends to tame lettuce's bitterness, but underneath that dressing is some pretty bitter stuff. At Green City Market the other day, we picked up a bunch of mixed seasonal lettuces from Growing Power, the farm located in the midst of the city of Milwaukee. I was a bit skeptical of this lettuce because Growing Power had a lot of hothouse tomatoes. They insisted though, that the lettuce came from the ground. I believe them now.

This was lettuce to tame your fear of bitterness. And of course, high advertisement for farmer's markets. I made my first big salad of the year. I love big salads. I take a bunch of items found in the kitchen, typically farmer's market produce and leftover meats, then chop it as well as my poor knife skills allow. I confess that what I love most about the big salad is just shoving all the minced stuff in my mouth like a squirrel and enjoying the way it interacts. In fact, I do not think I could eat a big salad in the company of others because the puffed out cheeks would be so impolite. OK, I am getting off subject. This big salad featured leftover pollo rostizado from Carnercia Jimenez (not the best I've had from them, too salty); Costco miracle bacon (i.e., their pre-cooked bacon that lasts for 8 months and is really, really good); Caputo's roasted red peppers, the Condiment Queen's famous tapenade (so good the chowhounditas demand it for breakfast, with goat cheese, at least once a week); and some crumbled blue cheese, with mustard vinaigrette. Oh, and that Growing Power Lettuce, at the end of the day, with all those things faded into the background. I mostly tasted the lettuce, a deliciously bitter lettuce. I finished that big salad, pushed myself away from the table, wiped my lips, smiled to no one, and said, boy was that bitter.

Additional follow up: We made the Wilmont Milling polenta last night. It took a long time, much longer than promised, but at the end of the day it was worth the wait (if you like your polenta heavy, intense and tasting like corn.)

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