Eastside Road, May 7, 2011—FIRST MARKET OF THE YEAR in our town, Healdsburg; first banter with Nancy, greetings to the Francophiles, congratulations to the Kiffs, conversation with Yael, nods to our neighbors the Hopkinses, smiles with Mary, who directs the place.
And first salmon of the year, because the California salmon — King, Coho — is back, after a couple of years away. That's good news. Slow Food International divides the world into various "Nations," named after their totem Food: ours here in Northern California is Salmon.
The Fish Guy was away from his stand. Where's the old man, I asked his daughter: Oh, he died last winter, she said. I crumpled a little against the counter, and she quickly explained that she was joking. Don't joke like that with a 75-year-old man, I said, but made it clear I was kidding, as she had been. I suppose he's stepped away to the bar, I added. I wish I were with him, she responded.
We bought a one-pound hunk of salmon. I was going to grill it outside, over grapevine cuttings, but it turned chilly tonight, so we cheated and broiled it in the oven. Salt, pepper, a sprinkling of vodka; three minutes on each side — as it turned out, a little too long in the broiler, but it's early in the game.
With the fish, the first fresh favas of the year. Afterward, a nice green salad dressed with salt, shallots, olive oil, and Meyer lemon juice. What a fine way to celebrate spring!
Cheap Soave (D'Aquino Gaetano, 2009)