Sea bass with spring vegetables
It’s a cliché that chefs find their inspiration in the market. Fortunately, it’s a clichés that also happens to be true, as often as schedules and demands of the kitchen allow (wish it was everyday!). If a kitchen is available, the leisure of travel is the prefect time to indulge.
Here is evidence for the theory: a basket full of fresh seasonal stuff found in the Saturday market in Orthez. The season being a little advanced in comparison to Seattle, I found fava beans, small violet artichokes, young garlic and a beautiful bar de ligne (line-caught sea bass from St.-Jean-de-Luz).
Here’s another cliché that happens to be true: With ingredients like this, the menu just about writes itself. I opted to roast the bass whole with some lemon, thyme, garlic and shallots in the cavity, and to serve it with quinoa and a ragout of spring vegetables. For the ragout, the handiwork is considerable but made easier by the tenderness of the young artichokes – easier to turn – and the fact that tiny first favas don’t need to be peeled, just shelled.
While the bass was roasting, I sauteed the artichokes, young garlic and favas with olive oil, deglazed with vermouth and white wine, then finished with a big chunk of butter.
There you have it , bar roti au four, ragout de légumes de printemps.