One thing I will miss about working in the Loop is the farmers market. Starting in May, I would be sure to pass by Daley Plaza every Thursday morning on my way to the office from Union Station, wandering slowly around the tables filled with berries and greens and tomatoes and jars of honey and breads and flowers, and I won't lie -- I'd feel a bit overwhelmed.
I'm like that when I shop for anything. I think too much about whether the item is worth the price tag, if I really, really need it and, in the case of most vegetables at the farmers market, what do I do with this thing, anyway? Most weeks, I'd come home with something familiar: green beans, tomatoes, radishes, bell peppers. But other weeks, a vegetable would call out to me. Beets, for example, and Brussels sprouts, which were both so new and foreign to me that I had to give them a go.
Now, with my (semi)new job in the suburbs, my commute involves 25 minutes on I-88 and hello, office, I'm here! No trains, no 12-hour days, and no complaints. Except for missing that farmers market, of course.
Don't get me wrong, vegetables do exist in the suburbs, although they can be pretty pathetic way too often. Brown and bruised green beans, radishes with wet, wilted greens, and one time I went to the grocery store in search of leeks and they were nowhere to be found. I realized quickly that this might become a problem, as seasonal fresh produce will soon be in full force and there are still so many new-to-me vegetables to be explored. Where will I find my Muses?
The answer is Whole Foods. At least, I hope that is the answer. I went shopping there for the first time ever a couple of weekends ago (is that weird?) in search for inspiration and lo and behold, I found morels.
Apparently, morels are big come springtime. I first heard about them last spring through Jess at Sweet Amandine, where her bright photos alone were enough to convince me that I should eat some morels. Nearly a year and one visit to Whole Foods later, and here I am! Telling you that morels are tasty and that you should try them too! And quickly, because they're only around for a month or so.
But, as Jess also warned, they are pricey. I don't remember what I spent on my little box of four to five morels, but that may just be because I pushed it out of my mind. That's right, I wanted to try them that badly that I ignored the price tag and just went with it.
I sauteed my morels with olive oil and asparagus, sprinkled with garlic flakes and drizzled with lemon. The morels soaked up the lemon like a sponge, but that deep, earthy background still stood strong. They have a sturdier bite than regular white button mushrooms, and I can see why people may go crazy for them, and they certainly are a nice way to bring in the season.
It'll be another two months before the farmers markets open in the 'burbs, and until then, I just hope Whole Foods doesn't let me down. The morels were a good start. I'll let you know what comes next.