What to Look For
The first spring taste of super-fresh local asparagus is revelatory. Nutty and verdant, it makes the Californian stalks seem watery and forgettable. There’s almost enough to go around now, so you don’t need to be the first one at the market to enjoy delights like this recipe from Tía Pol ($4 per pound at Hoeffner, available Wednesday and Saturday, $4 per bunch at Cherry Lane, available Wednesday and Saturday).
Now’s the time to enjoy sorrel, with its vivid lemony flavor backed by mineral complexity. Also known as sour grass, and used in spring tonics to refresh logy wintry metabolisms, when cooked the pointy dark-green leaves dissolve into a drab-looking, bright tasting purée that’s perfect blended into a rich soup or a tart, cream-based sauce for fish ($2.50 per bunch at Northshire Farm, available Saturday).
Thick-cut bacon, soft, white sourdough, and crunchy greenhouse-grown romaine are in close proximity on the north-west side of the market, and they’ve just been joined by Nine-Jay’s greenhouse-grown heirloom tomatoes, making that iconic trinity, the BLT, almost impossible to ignore. Organically grown in dirt beds, these are pre-season tomatoes with taste and texture, and they more than suffice in a sandwich ($4.85 per pound at Nine Jay, available Saturday).
Spinach has sprung to life in fields outside the city, and the buttery, velvety leaves are unusually free of grit since it hasn’t been raining much (raindrops splash the crops with sandy mud). Buy an enormous bag of prewashed leaves (which still need to be rinsed) to make quick work of hearty spring salads — hint: think bacon ($3.50 per two-pound bag at Cherry Lane, available Wednesday and Saturday).
Blink and You’ll Miss It
Shad roe has been around for well over a month, but the less trendy shad fillets are not as easily obtained and the season is almost over. At P.E. & D.D., the prodigiously boney fish has been expertly filleted, so we can enjoy this tender, rich herring relative with comparative ease ($14.50 per pound at P.E. & D.D., available Monday and Saturday). —Zoe Singer