Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Eastern Market

I take my first step outside, the humid summer air is fleeting quickly and I feel a sense of urgency to spend as much time outside as possible. Capitol Hill is buzzing; everyone is running amuck and enjoying this beautiful Sunday morning. I grab my bike and I’m off to Eastern Market to do some exploring of my own. The sounds of laughter, children, music and chatter fill the air. A small jazz trio is playing at the corner coffee shop and spectators stop in their tracks to enjoy. Children and dogs are running around as young couples pick out their dinner for the evening. I am in heaven.

I always start with the fenced in flea market for my first temptation. Leisurely walking in and out of the tiny makeshift shops, I’m thrown a few smiles and a “hello there pretty lady” by the incense seller. (It never fails) I grab a cup of fresh squeezed lemonade and enjoy the plethora of antiques that surround me. There is something about the smell of antiques that makes my heart flutter with a sense of curiosity. They seem so innocent to me, yet for some reason I’m always left curiously wondering where these pieces came from. What is their story?

Leaving empty handed, as I usually do, I head over to the farmers stand to check out the array of fresh produce for sale. I always make a lap or two before making my first purchase. My mind wanders with all the potential and I’m left distracted with all the wonderful selections. I often become overwhelmed with the endless possibilities and end up buying too much, or not enough. I have an idea this time, a craving. My idea grows as I slowly walk in between the people and strollers. I admire the beautiful wildflowers and talk myself out of buying some for a treat. I must remain focused this time.

Alas, I return to where I once started, this time with a mission in mind. Of course, the first stand had the best looking heirloom tomatoes so I couldn’t help but to get one yellow and one red. They were lush with beautiful color, not too hard and not too soft. I’m then sidetracked by some beautiful eggplant and my thoughts begin to wonder how they taste. Focus, Kristin.

I turn to pick up one husk of fresh sweet corn to go with my recipe and treat myself to two gorgeous peaches. I always say I’ll make peaches and cream but they never last long enough for me to get to the store to buy the heavy cream. Maybe one day…

With a smile and a quick exchange, I have my goods and I’m off to the indoor market. I quickly grab a fresh baguette from the bakery when I turn to see the display of fresh pastas. I’m a sucker for fresh pasta and hope to one day muster up enough courage to make my own ravioli. Then I see it, homemade lobster and crawfish ravioli. “I MUST try this” I think to myself. With just a quarter of a pound, I’m left with six pieces to sample for dinner. Perfect.

The clouds darken overhead and I see my time has come to an end. I have everything I need to fulfill my dinner fantasy for that day so I hop on my bike and peddle home. I grab a large handful of basil and a pinch of tarragon from my front garden and run inside just in time before the rain starts.

The front door slams shut behind me and I skip my way back to the kitchen (Yes, I said skipped). This was going to be great!!

I quickly throw the corn in a pot of boiling water and get another pot ready for my ravioli. While that’s cooking, I chop up both tomatoes, tarragon and a few leaves of basil; drizzle with olive oil and throw in a little salt and pepper. I set that aside to marinate.

Then I take out my cast iron skillet and season it with some olive oil. I slice my baguette into thin diagonal pieces and set them inside once the oil is heated.

In a blender I combine the basil leaves, pine nuts, a clove of garlic, freshly grated parmesan cheese, olive oil, and some salt and pepper. I blend them until I have a beautifully smooth pesto. I wanted just a little something to drizzle over the ravioli without taking the taste away from the fresh dough and fish.

I quickly throw the ravioli in a small simmering pot and stir them slowly. They only need about 6-7 minutes.

By this time, my corn is done. I cut it off the husk and throw into my tomato concoction to complete my bruschetta. I slap a large dollop on top of my toast and drizzle with a touch of olive oil.

I drain the ravioli, plate and trickle some pesto on each piece. I’m overjoyed with the outcome and can’t wait to dive in!

The ravioli was all I had hoped for and more. The seafood and pesto flavors married beautifully and filling was something from a dream. The chef was sparing with the salt and I was left wanting more. Next time, I’ll spend the money and get a half pound.

The crunchy, sweet, salty bruschetta was a two minute masterpiece. Left overnight to marinate, it was absolutely heavenly the next day for my lunch.

The juices from the tomatoes and the oil formed a flavorful broth at the bottom of the dish and I used the day old bread to sop it up. It was a perfect way to bring me back to that beautiful Sunday as the reality of the work week set in. As the familiar flavors danced on my tongue, I swear I could hear the music, the children, and the laughter; and just for one moment the florescent lights faded and I was standing at the market again.

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