Market Mondays – Fiddleheads

There’s a phenomenon on Twitter where people will mention or retweet something and create a buzz, but the buzz fails. For instance, a dozen people will mention a food-related event but none of them will actually attend. The same kind of failed buzz seems to be happening with seasonal produce. I’m seeing piles of people squeeing about ramps and fiddleheads, but none of that excitement translating to blog posts showing what they’ve been cooking with these seasonal glories.

In fact, the only mention I’ve seen about fiddleheads in terms of someone having purchased and prepared the things is pickling. No references to the fresh product at all. Which makes me think that maybe people still don’t know what to do with fiddleheads, even though they’re turning up everywhere.

Up until a few years ago, the few people in Toronto (mostly ex-pat Maritimers) who knew and loved fiddleheads were happy to have one small feed of them each June. There was one produce shop in Kensington Market that would bring them in from Nova Scotia and by the time they made it to the store shelves they were already starting to go off. Sobey’s stores (based in Nova Scotia) would sometime get them in as well, albeit in very small quantities.

While the Ostrich Fern is native to Ontario, nobody seemed to pick up on the fact that the things are mighty tasty until a few years ago – probably after having listened to a Maritimer friend bemoan the lack of them one time too many.

So now they’re everywhere – and people are excited – but still… nobody seems to be doing much with them.

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Magic Mushrooms

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Liz posted a picture of some morel mushrooms on Facebook, indicating that she had picked them while at her weekend home in Warkworth, ON. I commented on the photo, pointing out that I was her friend and that I liked her very, very much, not actually expecting morels to be forthcoming – I’m not sure I’d share if I had my own personal stash, after all.

Liz is a very sweet lady, though, and early last week, after another trip to the country, she emailed me, offering me what was probably the last of her morel harvest. “It’s not much,” she said. “Only about 3 handfuls.”

You know the old saying about never looking a gift horse in the mouth, and so off I went in joyous anticipation to meet a lady about some mushrooms. In trade, I took some bottles of gluten-free beer for Liz’s husband, because when someone brings you the last of their morels, you should reciprocate in some way. And since Liz’s husband can’t drink regular beer, I’m hoping that the exchange was as appreciated on their end as it was on mine.

Liz had the ‘shrooms wrapped up in cheesecloth, so it wasn’t until I got them home that I really got to admire them. So beautiful, these magical things, like little balls of brown lace. And so many! I’d have been overjoyed with half this amount; Liz had been especially generous.

I decided to saute them with fiddleheads and garlic and then serve them with gnocchi in brown butter.

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