Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Eat Local 2: Herbs and Berries

As always, I am excited to find surprises in our weekly bundle. The first few weeks offer a rare treat, fresh berries, then the weather gets too hot and the tomatoes take over.

This year, the first couple weeks have yielded berries. Large, delicious and juicy blackberries. Small, deep red and flavorful strawberries. Somehow the flavor is particularly good in the locally grown berries. This is especially true of strawberries, which look tiny and deformed compared to the huge, unrealistically perfect ones in the plastic cartons at the store. Yet, one tiny berry contains more flavor than five of the huge ones.

It's summer, and nothing beats a fruit cobbler for summertime, warm, with vanilla ice cream on the side. For the blackberries, I stumbled onto a great recipe that was a leap of faith the first time around. It is Tyler Florence's version of a blackberry crumble. All the ingredients are the usual suspects except for the addition of fresh rosemary. This is normally an herb I associate with roast meat, chicken or pork. But, I gave it a shot. It was amazing. The rosemary adds a depth to the crumble that accents the flavor the berries and gives the dish a character that elevates it from a simple fruit crumble to something you would pay for in a restaurant.

It makes me wonder. What other discoveries await when you start blurring the lines on savory herbs and sweet dishes? Or vice versa. The Todd English August Tomato Tart actually uses mint along with Rosemary and Basil. Both Vosges Chocolates and Christopher Elbow chocolates offer Rosemary Caramels. Vosges has an exotic caramel collection that is amazing in its variety and subtlety. But then, we are getting into the Exotic Chocolate realm now, and THAT is a whole other post.

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