This week we’ve just started to warm up slightly from Gainesville’s worst frost since 1989, and many local farms have been hit hard. This past Wednesday at the downtown Farmer’s Market, there was a little less, but still plenty of fresh, local and organic produce: winter greens, local tomatoes and peppers, baby salad greens, red and green onions and some of the most flavorful long radishes and dark red carrots from Springhill Farm in Micanopy. With so many local and organic farms near Gainesville, even in a dearth period, we still have plenty, and I purchased a large bunch of sorrel from Possom Hollow Joe’s booth. A menu and a pairing came to my mind, speaking a little of summer.
In reading Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food” one can’t help but want to refocus on less being more. Some of the proof is in the taste, and these deep-colored carrots are sweeter and more satisfying than factory-farmed carrot sequoias, that only taste like the wood they resemble. Yes, these farmed treats are more expensive, but everyone served commented on the particular flavorfulness of this salad. Sliced carrots and radishes in a light red wine tangerine juice vinaigrette with hydroponic cucumbers and local cherry tomatoes on local mixed green shoots. I added cashews, which are not local, but had that fattiness I crave in the winter. I used tangerines from our tree that we were obliged to harvest in the wake of our ten days of 20degree weather mixed with a little red wine vinegar.
The sorrel reminded me of an amazing dish we’d had years ago in Paris: Salmon in a Sorrel Sauce. In a large thick bottomed saucepan (or even a thick bottomed pressure cooker) sauté a red onion in four tablespoons of olive oil. I cleaned and rough-chopped a full bag of sorrel (maybe two bunches), the radish greens and about twenty fresh collard leaves (these are from my own organic garden, a little touched by frost) with a bunch of cold-hearty flat leaf parsley and garlic chives (also from the garden). Once these had wilted I added three cups of water (though one could use stock) and cooked until onions were translucent. I then added the fresh salmon, with a little salt and pepper, skin side down on top of the nest of wet greens. I closed the lid firmly and cooked until the top of the salmon went light pink, about ten to fifteen minutes depending on the size of the salmon filet.
Yes, an “Omega 3 Fat Fiesta” with the original source, the organically grown greens, combined with wild caught salmon, a condensed source of Omega 3 fatty acids. To pair I chose the new vintage (2008) of the Vida Organica Torrontés from Argentina, less than $10 a bottle. Yes, organic, so the theme of the meal was intact, if not purely local. This wine exudes citrus blossoms and quince on the nose, yet has a bright and dry acidity on the palate, like lemon pith, grapefruit and tart green apples. This brightness balances the fatty richness of the fish, and the wine’s fruitiness worked to lighten any of the bitter flavors of the wilted greens and sorrel, whose own lemony notes tuned in to the citrus of the wine perfectly. The Torrontés also worked with the opening salad, full of fresh farm flavors harmonizing with this elegant wine, letting the real taste of the food came through. I pureed some of the green mixture as a sauce and served the filets on top of a few of the wilted greens. I didn’t even feel slighted for not serving rice or potatoes, and with all of these real and local flavors I felt very satisfied. For vegetarians, either make the sorrel sauce into a soup or add the sauce to grilled tofu, and pair with the Torrontés, which is still a delicious option.
The Union Street Farmer’s Market is every Wednesday and the Haile and 13thStreet Markets are Saturday mornings. The wine is available at Gator Spirits and The Wine and Cheese Gallery, though many local stores sell affordable Torrontes. Who is to say one can’t enjoy white in the winter?