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Each year in France, the arrival of the first harvests marks the return of the most hallowed of culinary periods: spring. No more short days and no more root vegetables one would rather forget. A wave of freshness wafts over market stands. Green power from broad beans, peas, ramsons, trumpet zucchini, artichokes, wild or green asparagus, watercress, dandelion, arugula, Adour kiwi fruit... Red power from radishes, tomatoes, Sisteron lamb, Nîmes strawberries, raspberries, mangoes, rhubarb, peaches… And power, period. From morels to langoustines to fresh goat cheeses. Quite simply, the selection is so overwhelming foodies no longer know where to turn their attention or their forks.
Fortunately, Mother Nature knows what she is doing. After a winter of endless simmering and slow cooking, the freshness of spring's bounty calls for quick recipes. Like these strawberries simply dunked in a cold cinnamon and red wine syrup before being arranged around scoops of vanilla ice cream (see recipe: Strawberry Jubilee). Keep it simple. Not only in the preparations, but in the product pairings as well. Just go green! Like in this spring salad featuring arugula, watercress, ramsons, broad beans and peas (see The Easter Table) or this tartare of kiwi, prawns, olive oil, chives and lime (see recipe: Adour Kiwi and Prawn Tartare). Unless you prefer the sun-drenched vibrancy of a Yellow Cocktail crafted from yellow Chartreuse, lemon juice, gin and gentian liqueur. Not to mention the delights of the season's first barbecues with quickly seared meats such as lamb chops and beef steaks. A feast!
There is plenty to awaken the appetite! But how can you satisfy that appetite? By eating a little bit of everything, of course! Springtime is the right time for small plates, blurring the lines between appetizers and entrees. Make way for big tables where guests can sample an array of recipes, one mouthful at a time. Meals last longer than usual, especially since these light dishes pair so well with "easy-drinking" wines. It’s a newfound sense of freedom. Just in time to usher in summer...