23 April 2008

Benito vs. the Pteridophyte: Fiddlehead Ferns

I've been waiting a long time to eat ferns, and I'm not talking about crawling around in infancy and trying to nosh on the household plants. After being around ferns for much of my youth, I never imagined they might be edible until the early 90s when I checked out a cookbook from the library. Not just any cookbook, this was a giant, glossy coffee table book showcasing indigenous ingredients and recipes from around the country. The section on Maine featured lovely photos of fiddlehead ferns, and for nearly twenty years I've been waiting to find them in the store or on a menu. Recently I spotted them at Fresh Market and took them home for supper.

Here's what The Girlfriend and I enjoyed: grilled baby bok choy that were then roasted with butter and parmesan cheese, then a chunk of watermelon topped with some Bonnie Blue feta-style goat cheese and sea salt (inspired by this recipe), and then slices of porterhouse steak topped with steamed and marinated fiddlehead ferns. The Alpine Harvest fiddleheads were steamed for a good fifteen minutes and then allowed to rest in olive oil and tarragon wine vinegar for a while before serving. The flavor and texture is somewhat like asparagus but more tart. Unfortunately, they're difficult to clean and from the box I purchased only half were usable. Odd side note: after steaming, the water beneath the fiddleheads was blood red. No idea why.

I've noticed that I'm rarely drinking Pinot Noir these days, so in remedy I picked the 2006 Alamos Selección Pinot Noir from the Mendoza region of Argentina. $15, 13% abv. Pretty decent basic Pinot, nice full strawberry flavors, light and mellow. A good match for the meal, and hey, Jancis Robinson likes it.

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