have been in a spring state of mind all winter…dreaming of its bountiful, fresh, green possibilities. After months of patience, my senses are buzzing and I can finally say with joy that it’s here! Spring is finally here!
With the advent of spring comes, of course, Virginia’s Historic Garden Week. One without the other is simply unimaginable. Both are a celebration of budding vegetables, fresh flora, and the jubilance of a new season that is well worth a long winter’s wait.
As is usual at this time of year, I find myself euphoric at the farmer’s market, contemplating the dishes I will create. Outside of working my small gardens, this is my culinary utopia. I find that there are few pleasures in life quite as delightful as burrowing one’s nose into a tall vine of sweet pea blossoms, or stopping dead in your tracks because of the newly discovered scent of ramps. These and countless other surprises await at your local farmers market!
Shopping at the farmers market is, for me, the connection between farm and table. In my line of work, I often pick up that folks are tired of hearing “farm to table” as a catchphrase. However, understanding that this movement transcends trend and is here to stay gives the phrase timeless value. This relationship has become deeply rooted in my life and connects me to generations of cooks who have come before me.
While the notion of farm to table is perpetual, I find that there’s something new and interesting that catches my eye and other senses each spring. Every year I notice that local farmers are becoming more creative, more inspired, and more involved in their vegetable production and selection. Last season it was all about the legions of pea varieties, which, in turn, inspired me to sow my shelling peas in February. As a result, I created the pea soup recipe accompanying this article. For the soup, I chose the Purple Podded heirloom collection. It’s a variety that I had never tasted before, nor ever had the pleasure of plunging my nose into its luxurious bouquet. I was not disappointed!
My featured Garden Week recipe, Purple Podded Pea Soup, (pictured) is quite the showstopper and unbelievably easy to create. I decorate this dish with seasonal, edible flowers and a brick dough crisp. It was my first time working with this specialty dough, which you can either make from scratch or purchase online. This soup makes a lovely first course, and is a perfect spring garden dish that will sing to all of your senses.
Laurie’s Garden Week Menu
Speck Wrapped with Crunchy Fried Farm Egg and Chive Oil
Purple Podded Heirloom Pea Soup
Edible Flower Blossoms and Brick Dough Crisps
Pan Seared Skate Wing
Lemon Caper Beurre Blanc –
Young Garden Herbs and Ramps
Brioche Toast Points – Sheep’s Milk Ricotta,
Twenty Paces Farm – Lovage Leaves