I arrived to the States over a decade and half ago. It seems like yesterday. (Oh man, am I that old?) It was mid-February, the semi-cold residual of winter -- depressing, wet and gray. A week later it snowed briefly and then the grays turned into brilliant greens and the sky into never-ending patch of clear blue. On March 11th Dr.V stopped by my office, and said “let’s go to the City”. And we drove from New Jersey, a short thirty minute drive in his “city car”, a beaten up red Cherokee, and we parked on Lafayette and explored... We walked the City up and down, all the way to the South Street Seaport, and down an up, all the way to Central Park. We wore T-shirts and sneakers. It was that warm. And it was not even spring...
Our springs are now colder and they are being pushed back -- every year they come a notch later. This Friday, on the official Arrival of the Spring Day we had a snowstorm. And yesterday, the Very First Full Day of Spring was grey and cold and windy and gloomy, it reminded me of that day when I landed at the Newark airport over a decade and half ago, alone and scared. This spring that never arrives, doesn’t it tell us something. Maybe, that we have neglected this planet a little? Do we listen?
I have about exploited all the ways of evoking the Spirits of the Spring, as have my fellow New Yorkers. I threw every spell imaginable. I packed my snow boots, and my Uggs. I bought spring flowers, I did spring cleaning, I cooked some really springy dishes in the middle of the snowstorm, I even bought a new spring dress. The only thing that was left is the radish black magic – don’t you think that no vegetable spells S-P-R-I-N-G better than radishes? So, yesterday night, we bought some nice crusty baguette at Eric Kayser (my current addiction), and feasted on this really simple dish, it is not even a dish, but then it is, and it is like a simple plate of magic. And then you know what? I woke up to a sunny bedroom and to a sky of never-ending clear blue.
I think it worked...
Watermelon Radish with Citrusy Glaze
* 4 watermelon radishes
* 1-2 tbsp good quality grassy olive oil
* 1 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice
* a tiny shave of lemon zest, literally just a couple of sprinkles of zest
* 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
* Maldon or other finishing salt of your choice
Wash the radishes (I like to peel them too) and slice them thinly.
In a small bowl combine the olive oil, orange juice, lemon zest and vinegar. Mix well until emulsified.
With a kitchen brush, apply a tiny bit of glaze to the back of each slice of radish, and then place the slices on a plate, non-glazed side facing up. (You really want just a hint of the glaze, because you do not want it to overpower the radish, so have a light hand when applying it.) Sprinkle the radishes with the finishing salt and serve.
Note: You can skip the finishing salt and use regular “kitchen” salt you cook with. Finishing salt is just a little act of food snobbery on my part. The dish is not going to suffer if you do not have Maldon. But the olive oil should be really, really good, and grassy (not the heavy stuff) and the orange juice should come from an orange (not the bottle) – so no cheating. And of course, vinaigrette is a personal thing, and you can (and should) adjust the quantities to your liking.