Monday, June 1, 2009


We wait for our plates to take on the full spectrum of a Pantone swatch chart while we feast on all things green. There is however, a moment or two during this chlorophyll filled season of radiance. Radishes are a splash of color that comes to market early and often – they have a very short growing cycle giving that colorful, peppery sharpness quick access to our plates. Just simply tossed with lemon and pepper these early turnip relative is muted joy.

At the other end of the mix comes the puckering note of blushing stalks that claim the cold tundra of Eastern Eurasia as its motherland. Rhubarb does not have to be eaten when the stalks are fully reddened, as they will still deliver tartness packed into every stem. I do admit that I seek out the rouged stems in order to give that little splatter of color in an otherwise verdigris moment.

Yes, I am enjoying the expected pairing with strawberries though since I am not such a pie person I make a rich biscuit for modified shortcake. There has to be other ways to play with these stems…and I have two ideas that will cause me to wait. Firstly, I am putting up rhubarb chutney that will ask the iconic cranberry to enjoy the holidays from the sidelines. Then the innate sourness has taken my thoughts right to vinegar. So, into a jar it sits stewing; macerating; with alchemistic powers informing vinegar.

Rhubarb Vinegar – yields approx 2 quarts
1-pound rhubarb – washed and diced
1 bottle sparkling white wine – such as Moscato, Perseco
1-cup distilled white vinegar

In a clean 3-quart jar place the rhubarb and pour over the wine and vinegar. Cover the jar with a clean cloth secured with a rubber band or string. Place in a cool, dark spot for 3 months. Strain, and store the rhubarb in a clean jar with a thoroughly fitting lid.