Monday, June 22, 2015

City terrace life

It has been a busy week, so a little terrace catch-up is in order:

On our terrace, the (surviving) blueberries are fat I eat a handful every morning.

I have also worked out why two of the bushes have not been very happy. The good news is: It is not. My. Fault. But a Union Square market seller deserves a kick in the pants: the bushes were field-dug so that the main roots were cut off. I discovered this only when I transplanted two ailing bushes to 'hospital' pots on a cooler part of the terrace, recently. After winter's attrition the surrounding soil fell away, and the original root ball was exposed - tiny, and a perfect, shallow half circle, with those fat severed roots sticking out like amputated limbs. Someone dug them last year with no concern whatsoever for their future well-being, put them in a pot with clay and sold them. I did not remove all the clay when I planted them out last year, but now it had worked off and the truth was exposed. I am guessing that they might have been older shrubs past peak bearing age. No wonder they were so cheap.

Blueberries dislike having the roots disturbed at all. No new feeder roots formed and I'm surprised they last as long as they did.

But the happy ones? Are happy.

I have eaten most of the black raspberries. Slurp. It was so humid on Saturday morning that my lens fogged up, above. They were in peak ripeness over the weekend, which was excellent timing, as they had several visitors last week, bearing notebooks and cameras. We met and fed the lovely Lucy Anna Scott and photographer Jon Cardwell, who are collaborating on a book called My Tiny Garden. Lucy is the author of Lost in London, almost an English cousin to 66 Square Feet - A Delicious Life, each exploring the green underbellies of their respective cities.

We had a terrace supper of fava bean and garlic scape bruschetta, bagna cauda, fire-grilled lamb in sour cream with terrace oregano (above, and recipe in my book), grilled scallions, and cherry clafoutis to end. It was a good night, crowned by a firefly's light.

In other news, the beans are beaning, and screening.

And the scarlet runners are already in bloom.

Every recent evening, when we sit down to dinner, a bumblebee visits the southern bush honeysuckle (Diervilla sessilifolia, a spring acquisition - indigenous up and down the East Coast).

And last night I strained and filtered the orange wine - above - that I had made the day I learned that Roger Vergé had died. The recipe is in his Entertaining in the French Style, a book whose spirit is part of me.

 The infused wine was very good, but had a kick like an angry ostrich. Treat it as the aperitif he suggests or cut it with some sparkling water. VergĂ©'s is fortified with cognac, but I made do with a raspberry infused vodka, and a lot less sugar than he prescribes. The other ingredients are bitter oranges, vanilla, cinnamon and pepper (I have been tinkering at a Northeastern-inspired vermouth recipe over the weekend, so infusions are very much part of the late June house).

Last night's Caprese salad was with grilled red peppers (skins removed), Wisconsin burrata, terrace basil and a slick of melted anchovies.

So that was that.

Tomorrow's wild foods walk is in Brooklyn Bridge Park, if it does not thunderstorm on us. I'll be packing a recent wildflower infusion, something serviceberry-ish, and possibly a bottle of bubbles.


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  1. Fun to see your blueberries. Because I saw last year on your blog that you were growing blueberries in pots I planted two this year. They are just beginning to get ripe. My granddaughters love blueberries! Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Mine are blue but still tiny. Hope they will fill out soon!

  3. Beautiful pictures! The raspberries will not be ripe here in Berlin for more than a month. Lucky you!


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