February: Island Food Musings
February is when the island really feels like a wind-blown little sand dune out to sea and it is also when it really becomes a local food desert. It is slim picking on island for local food with your best bet being local bread and local honey. Even the bay scallops are tough to find as it was not a good season for the scallopers at all.
BEST LOCAL FIND THIS MONTH
Flock, the knitting store on Orange St has FRESH CRUSTY BREAD!!! Available during their business hours Wed-Sun.
RI Mushrooms - found them at Bartlett Farm!! This time of year is slim pickings at Bartlett’s for local produce but came across these gems this week.
LOCAL MAKERS I WANT TO CHAT ABOUT: Nell Van Vorst
Nell makes some of the most incredible mugs, platters, vases and ceramics. The finish is so smooth and her style beautifully unique. I have this odd knowing that just hold her mugs in my hand will make the world okay again. While I love all of her work, my favorites have to be just about any of the mugs with birds, beasts and plants on them.
Best way to find Nell this time of year: her website or instagram until the Artisan’s Market starts up again.
*all photos thanks to Nell!
NOT LOCAL MAKERS (but small and passionate!) TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Apis Apotheca
I have been admiring the instagram feed for these plant-based skincare products for the past month. The oils, the beautiful photos, the attention to nature and plants and all the goodness those bring us just light up my February. Based in the Catskills in NY I hope to visit and bring some back some day soon.
WHERE I FOUND INSPIRATION THIS MONTH:
TIS THE SEASON FOR: BEETS and other root vegetables
Let’s face it, this time of year is when we have to pull out all the stops on getting creative with what is in season in New England. Beets have become a personal challenge of some sorts and there is this one recipe that both eludes me and intrigues me. This will be my third attempt at creating these beet dumplings. They remind me of gnocchi and I believe are meant to be pillowy and fluffy and light - not how I think of eating beets ever or at all. Beets feel so OF the ground. It’s their earthy flavor I am sure - so distinct and much more grounding than other root vegetables. It really tastes like soil. Like dirt. Like the earth. They are not vehicles for other flavors the way potatoes or turnips can be vehicles.
I keep coming back to this recipe and I am not sure why. The first attempt was an epic fail, barely edible. The second attempt, there was a glimmer of hope. But everything about this recipe is the antithesis of my usual ‘get in and get out’ approach to cooking. It requires planning ahead. It requires reading the recipe several times over to realize you need to plan ahead. It requires just a few ingredients and a lot of technique. At least, I am guessing there is a lot of technique involved here because I keep messing it up and it’s a pretty simple recipe.
I don’t even know what these are supposed to taste like. But I am going to try again as after all, it IS a double whammy seasonal recipe after all - the beets and the basket ricotta (which becomes a mission of its own trying to seek it out and Oh hey New England - local guys Narragansett Creamery sometimes have it around Easter!!!)
Find the RECIPE HERE