Sunday, April 22, 2007

Awaiting Georgia's spring harvest

Spring has sprung!
Typically I know spring is officially when:
1. the tax deadline has passed
2. the robins are back
3. I have to crack the seal over my eyelids each morning that formed overnight due to the astronomically high, record-breaking pollen count in and around Atlanta. (Counts of 150 are considered very high, and we top out well over 700. Yikes)

But once I’ve supplicated at the feet of the IRS, defended by way-too-late-planted grass seeds from the invading red-breasted hoard and built up enough antihistamines in my system to be able to stop sneezing for five minutes, a certain giddiness kicks in and I realize…

Spring has come to Georgia where a crop of seasonal produce will soon be jaw-droppingly abundant. Specifically this means it’s fiddlehead fern season! Yeah baby!
Bring on the ramps from up in them thar hills, those plump garden peas and the deliciously delicate sweet pea tendrils that make for a stunning salad or garnish. In-coming are the first squash blossoms of the year begging to be stuffed with all kinds of goodies like herbed crab salad and artisan cheeses from Sweetgrass Dairy down in Thomasville.

On the way are tiny tender pinky-sized zucchini and patty-pans the size of popped popcorn that are just begging for a quick pass in hot pan with brown butter and fresh herbs – how’s that for fast food? And in a few months time, fresh (swoon) chanterelles (which many don’t know are grown here in Georgia) will be available. But I’m jumping ahead…

As I encounter discoveries of the season I’ll share them with you. I know there are some farmer’s markets that I’m going to making myself a regular at this year. And I’m planning on touring some of the local organic farms. There are a ton of them within an hour’s drive of the city which my friend Sheri Davis, chef/owner of Dish Restaurant, turned me on to by pointing me to Georgia Organics. She uses a lot of seasonal and locally grown produce at her award-winning restaurant in the neighborly-swank Virginia-Highland district.

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