Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Pickled Radishes w/ Black Peppercorns // You're In It (Weeks 37 & 38)

Back in college, an old friend had a habit of saying "oh, you're in it" whenever she encountered someone deep in thought. In those days, she usually dropped the line in reference to a term paper crunch period or a late night cry session over a failed date. In other words: very deep stuff.  Since then, I've occasionally borrowed her line and claimed it as my own (even though I'm fairly certain she stole it from a Zach Braff movie). As I sit here typing this, nearly two weeks into our summer pop-up market season, somewhat absentmindedly plucking pickled radishes from a mason jar and thinking of something brilliant to write, all I can say is this. We. Are. In. It. We're in it. And here's the kicker: it all feels kind of awesome, and comfortably old and familiar, like meeting back up with an old friend. 

Back before we opened our brick and mortar shop, the summer season was basically the season. It was our busiest period of the year, a period when we could take part in as many pop-up markets as humanly possible in order to get our name and our food out there, even when it meant doing ridiculous things in order to magically make ourselves appear in multiple locations at once. (This was back before we could afford payroll and employees, and so, in our best grassroots efforts somehow managed to do everything ourselves.) As a result, summer has often left us feeling a bit like vagabonds as we wander from pop-up event to pop-up event, essentially touring the city with boxes of bread in tow.  

If you've read any recent posts here, then you'll know that in the last month or so I've talked a lot about our fears and apprehensions about this summer season: the first season when we will operate not only a full roster of pop-up markets, but also our brick and mortar shop (and the many side projects that have spawned from that little venture). We've been terrified about having enough staff, and making sure we foster a sense of balance so that neither the shop nor the pop-ups suffer this season in order for the other to succeed. We've been equally terrified about weather, which can make or break an outdoor market (luckily, the gods have blessed us with plenty of sunshine and even a few 80+ degree days). But now that we're here -- now that we're in it -- many of those worries have already begun to slip away. 

When you're really in it, you sort of lose the ability to worry. Your brain switches into a form of auto pilot and you just kind of go. You fall into a certain rhythm and find the cadence that makes it all work. Poof. Just like that. I don't know how else to explain it really. And for the most part, it's all been running smoothly. With the exception of one back injury (which now seems about healed) and one epic argument over a new fruit-based mustard recipe, we've been sleeping well at night, and have been coherent enough to remember to exchange a kiss in the morning. And although to outsiders we likely still resemble gypsies, for us, we're right back where we belong: smack dab in the craziness of what has become our new normal these last few years.

Part of our new normal is embracing time together whenever our business allows, which is usually very early in the mornings or very late in the evenings. So last weekend, as the market traffic began to die down and we began to close up shop for the night, the chef suggested a late night meal. We headed next door to Eataly, which, lucky for us sits directly beside one of our markets and, as a result, tends to serve as our go-to place for a quick espresso or beer this time of year. We navigated our way through the crowded corridors framed by glass cases filled with perfectly glazed desserts and a vast monochrome display of various cheeses. As usual, I quickly stopped off in the produce wing to peruse the offerings. Thickly woven baskets overflowed with globes of bright peridot kohlrabi, tiny dried strawberries speckled with earth-colored seeds, and mushroom caps the size of my palm twisted into organically-shaped curves and deep waves. But what caught my attention on this particular visit were the many varieties of radishes: thick white daikons, unassuming watermelon radishes, their secret neon interiors hidden beneath their deceptive green skin, slender earth-colored radishes no bigger than my fingers. 

Before I had the opportunity to fill my bag with fava beans and fiddleheads, we found ourselves seated on the rooftop. Soon, our table was filled with platters of salty salumi, thick links of house made probusto, bowls of perfectly fried shiitakes and several empty glasses that contained only a few remaining drops of rosé. After our meal, we walked back past the market on our way home. Compared to just a few hours earlier, it was a different scene. All of the vendor booths were closed, their nylon sidewalls rolled down for the night. The walkways, normally crowded with customers, were empty and quiet. All the strings of white globe lights that hung overhead were clicked off for the night. As the market faded from our view, I couldn't help but think that, for now at least, another day was behind us. And soon, another season will be too.  

Pickled Radishes w/ Black Peppercorns

- 1 large bunch of radishes
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

Thoroughly rinse the radishes and their leaves. Remove the leaves and store them for later use. Trim the ends from the radishes and set aside.

Add all remaining ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, tightly pack the trimmed radishes into a glass jar and set aside (depending on the size of the radishes, you may need to use two glass jars). Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the brine to cool slightly, about one to two minutes. Pour the brine into the glass jar, being sure to cover the radishes completely. Allow the brine to cool to room temperature. Seal the jar with a tight fitting lid. When kept covered and chilled, the pickled radishes will keep well for 1-2 weeks.

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