In early spring it is time to make the menu based around clearing out the cellar to make room for the spring bounty to come. I have learned a lot each year and we are slowly able to sustain the restaurant all year on produce that our horticulturist has grown. This is the time of year we take stock of the cellar and find a home for everything. The following is just a few ways I have done this.
The Hollows kimchi has been a huge hit paired with our poutine or warmed and served with our cottechino sausage. (We make the cottechino with the skin from our whole pigs but also use the skin that comes on our prosciutto and pancetta, once simmered it is as delicious as fresh pig skin). So in the fridge I found some over spiced kimchi and decided to clear out the natural pickle shelf and bulk it up with any odds and ends that were suitable. I added some cucumbers, some fermented chard stems that had no home, and some root cellar carrots. I also noticed an abundance of pickled asparagus and I realized that it is almost asparagus season again. I put pickled asparagus on the menu, in a dish with more of the last of the cellar made into a vegetable chowder as the trout garnish. I guess we were not using enough pickled asparagus in brunch caesars to use it in time. Potatoes that are left in the cellar but are beginning to sprout are sorted, the good ones go back into the cellar for continued use until next potato season, the rest are boiled, cubed and frozen for brunch hash browns. The freezing actually improves the hash brown and makes them very crispy when fried. The really sprouted ones will be used as seed and planted. I also keep all of the insides of out preserved lemons and soak them in vinegar for months, then I strain it and make a tasty dressing that we use all spring to finish fish, meat and pastas.
Now the cellar looks good and tight for spring, we still have a lot of backyard relish, but we are experimenting with a ‘big mac’ sauce. We are almost out of jam, just in time for rhubarb season, and we have plenty of cocktail syrups to use up in our spring punch specials.