Union Square greenmarket. Monday. Half past ten. The square looked more like a pumpkin patch than anything else but it was a display of gourmet onions -- including its smart cipollini onions -- that caught my eye.
(Actually the woman using her baby stroller to balance a giant pumpkin was quite eye-catching too... don't be alarmed, there was no child in the stroller at the time -- it was 100% pumpkin buggy and up to the task.)
I love onions. Many cooks say garlic is the most indispensable ingredient in the kitchen but something about garlicky cooking draws me away from wine and toward cognac (its ability to act as a breath freshener maybe?). This happens especially after I've just finished a garlic-heavy dinner and usually calls for my favourite alternative to Cognac: St-Vivant V.S. Armagnac, with its lovable wonky bottle. Onions, on the other hand, make me a better wine lover. Don't ask me why. All I know is please don't make me eat them raw.
Caramelized or blanched, roasted or stewed. Anything but raw.
* * *
A.O.C. Bedford. Moving SW to Houston and 6th Ave. Ten hours later. My New York hosts Frances and James and I made a wise choice to dine at A.O.C. Bedford. Mondays are corkage-free BYOW night (maximum one bottle of your own -- the restaurant remains fully licensed for additional drinks, should you desire them). But not only was it Monday; it was October. And you could really tell, in a good way. The chefs presented us distinctive seasonal dishes. Harvest time at the greenmarket was particularly evident in their butternut squash soup. It was made with 100% fresh squash and no cream. Amazing! It was richly and deeply flavoured -- the essence of squash with only a dab of garnish added to the centre of the bowl.
...I wonder if swan neck gourds have a similar culinary claim-to-fame or whether their interesting physiology is their best contribution to autumn. That's what the schoolchildren touring the greenmarket early in the day had thought. They grabbed one after the other by the goose neck and flung it about their heads. Or at least until the swan neck gourd farmer noticed...
The wines we drank seemed suitably autumnal as well. The bottle I brought was a rather light-ish Cahors and I rushed through it to get to Clos Del Mas Priorat 2003, a Grenache-Carignan blend on the wine list that really embraces fall fare like rack of lamb, duck breast and suckling pig, which were the three dishes we ordered.
This was my first taste of Priorat. It lived up to all the hype. Full, gripping flavour profile, extracted, not flabby at all. But it'll be A.O.C. Bedford that will have so much to live up to when I return for more at the next possible opportunity.