I don't know about you, but I am a charter member of Dessert First! As such, I begin this week's epistle with cheesecake. But I must issue a disclaimer before I continue. I grew up in New York, and as such, I am a cheesecake snob. When it comes to cheesecake, I am a purist. No berries. No lemon. No nothing but straight-up cheesecake. Heck, I have sent cheesecakes back to the kitchen in fancy-schmancy restaurant when it has been sent out to me with an unadvertised drizzle of berry syrup. So it was with more than a large dose of skepticism that I approached Pasteria Lucchese's new cheesecake.
Sara Lucchese can attest -- I grilled her. I read the label. I asked if it tasted of lemon. Mind you, I wasn't going to trash talk their cheesecake if it didn't meet my unreasonable standards. I was simply assessing whether I would want anything to do with it personally. Sara assured me that what little lemon juice their cheesecake contained was at worst subtle. She watched my eyebrows furrow with distrust. So she said. "How about you take one home and try it and let me know what you think?"
Honestly, I hadn't been angling for a freebie this time, as I genuinely assumed in my snobbery that a freebie would be wasted on me. But I accepted Sara's offer as a kindly challenge, and that she really wanted to know what my biased palate thought. So take one home I did, and guess what? Pasteria Lucchese's cheesecake rocks! Lemon? What lemon? Now, I should note that, in the photo above, their cheesecake is resting atop the lid of a small plastic container, and when you see it in person, you are going to think, "That is really small." Fear not. It is at least two servings. But now that I have let the cat out of the bag, I advise you to beeline it to them to get yours today, as they will undoubtedly run out early.
Okay, how cool is this? Cape Cleare Fishery -- you know, the folks from Port Townsend who ride their bicycles pulling trailers filled with coolers of fish to Ballard Farmers Market every Sunday -- now has this awesome little pellet smoker attached to one of their trailers. The result? They are able to cook up some of their beautiful, flash-frozen at sea salmon for you to sample so that you can truly experience why their fish is so good. So stop by and try out their salmon this week, eh? Just leave some for me.
A-friggin-men is all I can say about the arrival of green garlic season. Green garlic looks a lot like green onions, and it can be used similarly, except as, well, garlic. Just clean it carefully (dirt hides inside its green shoot leaves, like with leeks), and cut it up to toss in with sauteed greens or oven-roasted morels and asparagus or whatever. Cooked, it is sweeter than mature garlic cloves, and it has a slightly grassy quality. I just love this stuff. To me, it is a true treat of spring.
Rhubarb season is now in full swing, too. You will find it throughout the market. Above is some from Alm Hill Gardens. Pickup your flour from Nash's and your butter and whipping cream from Golden Glen to make the perfect rhubarb crisp.
Olsen Farms continues is sale of its delicious rack of lamb, saddle of lamb and standing beef rib roasts this week. Aren't these babies gorgeous? This past week, I made a lamb and pappardelle dish with Olsen's lamb. It is amazing stuff -- tender and full of deliciousness.
Maybe you will need a little tsatsiki for that lamb? Make it with some of that green garlic and this fresh goat yogurt from Port Madison. Of course, you can also just inhale this yogurt straight out of the cup, too.
Some rosemary potatoes will go well with that lamb, too. But use the cute, little guys for that. These mammoth Cal-White potatoes from Colinwood Farms will work better if your goal is mashed potatoes, or maybe a creamy potato soup.
Maybe some creamy potato leek soup, eh? How about these lovely leeks from The Old Farmer. You will find them kitty-corner from Wilson Fish with these leeks, and lots of beautiful flowers to brighten your home.
Have you tried Tall Grass Bakery's spelt bread? Spelt is an ancient grain that is an early ancestor of wheat. It is higher in protein and other nutrients and lower in gluten. This bread is a hearty, whole-grain bread. And the spelt is grown right here in Washington, too.
I heart radishes. And we are radish rich right now. Just look at these magnificent red radishes from Full Circle Farm. I love that radishes come in a broad spectrum of flavors and heat levels. I like to get a few different kinds and mix them up in my salads.
Remember, despite our recent return to wintery weather, it is still a great time to plant many heartier vegetables in your garden. Check out these pea starts from Growing Things. Just imagine yourself harvesting delicious peas from your own yard come Memorial Day.
Cauliflower is back at your Ballard Farmers Market. Nash's Organic Produce has it, but it went fast last week. Get there early!
Beautiful, crisp and sweet Fuji apples from Collins Family Orchards. Spring break is over. Stock up and send the kiddies to school with some.
One goose egg is enough to feed one, maybe even two, people. These puppies from Sea Breeze Farm are huge. I tell you, there is just something satisfying about making a big omelette with just one egg!
I promised you lettuce. Well, here it is. Red leaf, butter, romaine. Lots of beautiful young lettuces from Children's Garden... while they last, of course.
And remember, your Ballard Farmers Market is chock full of all sorts of goodness for your kitchen, from meat, seafood, poultry, cheese, to all sorts of fruits and veggies, baked goods, sauces, confections, fresh-cut flowers and fresh milled flours, plants for the garden, wild mushrooms, and on and on. For a fuller accounting of what you’ll find at the Market today, go to “What’s Fresh Now!” in the upper right-hand corner.