With the rainy forecast, and the last few nights dipping into the 30’s it’s only a matter of time before springtime is in our rear view mirror. I’m finding my yearly desire for spring somewhat controllable this season. I’m racing to find ways to get that last hearty comfort food dish on the menu before the hats and scarves give way to flippy flops and tank tops. I guess there are those few strictly local seasonal items like ramps, or morels, but with the ever expanding global agriculture the list of ‘seasonal’ items has almost disappeared. Increasingly over the past 5 years, seasonal has lost the part of its definition that ascribes it the notion of limited availability. Even taking ramps and morels as an example, they have a growing season that lasts maybe a single month in northeast Ohio, but they will be available through my produce company for at least a month longer. Looking at a broader picture and we see that things like stone fruit, grapes, apples, berries, and tomatoes have become completely season less.
So what is a chef to do with the seasons? Well, the desire to buy local and in turn buy higher quality product drives a lot of what keeps a menu seasonal. I think the idea to present something that is historically connected with a season is obvious. Finally, seasonal is no longer about what’s available, but how we cook that changes. Everyone can appreciate a good braise, or stew after a trek through the snow, but after a day at the beach the same meal just seems inappropriate. This drives the seasons now. And I’m currently trying to squeeze every last day out of the winter season before turning the page.