Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Day in the Land of Pleasant Living

A small gaggle of plants.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day today in Baltimore. One of those days that reminds me of Hawaiian weather and makes living in Maryland enjoyable.

Started off with the weekly trip to the Waverly Farmers Market. Didn't get there until eleven and it was jam-packed. Even last week when we got there at nine, it too was jam-packed. After a winter of shopping at the farmers market with everything for our picking pleasure, it kinda sucks to be awash in a sea of humanity. But at least the produce is looking good. Unfortunately, the peas and asparagus were already gone. But I did score some nice morels, some breads, a whole bunch of herbs, white potatoes, tomatoes (finally!), ginger and a great stash of beef short ribs from Woolsey Farm. Add to that cases of beautiful spring onions, spinach and sassafras root for Woodberry and we were on our way.

For lunch, we decided to give Baltimore Pho another try. Some of you may remember that our first visit there was less than stellar. I'm happy to report that they've stepped it up a bit and the pho broth is rich and tasty. It's got some oomph and I'm looking forward to our next visit.

A small gaggle of potted plants.

While at the market, I decided to give gardening a try. Once upon a time, I used to cultivate bonsai. But that was way back in the early nineties and I hadn't done it since. Last year I bought bonsai supplies from Dallas Bonsai but never got around to it. Not too sure how good my green thumb is but I guess I'll find out.

Reid Orchards offers a variety of heirloom vegetables and herbs that are organic and hothouse raised. They're three bucks each. I went with some cilantro, Gorizia rosemary, basil, hot peppers, green peppers, spearmint, parsley and thyme. Repotted them with some topsoil from Home Depot (okay, I know it's not organic but it was only a $1.17 for a 40# bag) and they're off to the races. I'm hoping for an endless supply of cilantro for my explorations in Mexican cooking and some tasty tomatoes but we'll see.

Since it was such a lovely day, I decided that grilling season was open and hauled out the trusty New Braunfels charcoal grill. Now, I've had the opportunity to cook on a variety of gas grills and I have to say that I just don't like them. They just don't get hot enough for me. Sure, charcoal takes forever to burn down to the coals but gosh does it taste good - especially if you're using real wood charcoal. Gas just can't beat it on terms of flavor.

BTW, the only gas grill I would want for home is the professional MagiCater. That grill generates tremendous heat and just kicks ass.

While the coals were still burning hot, I started the seasoning process for a new wok I purchased a couple of weeks ago. Seasoning a wok takes some time so it's a good thing I've got the other wok at the ready. Grilled up a simple ribeye from Woolsey with salt and pepper, then sauteed some blanched almonds, sliced white onions and asparagus in the wok with a little butter, canola oil and salt. Serve with a side of steamed white basmati rice, Mexican Coke and Paul Garmirian Soiree cigar under the beautiful sunshine and all is well.

Not too long after, some friends came over to partake of the grill action. Fresh chicken breasts on the grill with salt & pepper, grilled portabella mushrooms, grilled sweet corn and mesclun salad with a sesame soy vinaigrette (okay, that was store bought). Maria, our burgeoning casual sommelier brought over a couple of Australian reds that just blossomed as we continued drinking and all was well for round two.

Round three brought another friend over with a london broil in tow. He's got a little bit of a different taste than the rest of us and loves to slather his meats in whatever sweet sauce he can get his hands on at Costco. Today's slather was some syrupy sweet jerk sauce.

Add to that more wine, more cigars and lots of great discussion and it was a perfectly pleasant day here in the Land of Pleasant Living.

Hope your day was as enjoyable as mine.