I had dinner at FIG Saturday night. For an appetizer, I ordered the local radishes with Vermont butter and fleur de sel. This was one I hadn't tried before, and I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting--some sort of dressed salad kind of thing, I guess. Instead, the plate came out with food in three sections: a small pile of pink radishes on the left--cleaned and sliced in half but otherwise completely raw and unprepared in any way--along with an egg-shaped scoop of yellow butter in the middle and a small pile of coarse, flaky salt on the right. Hmm, I thought. I surveyed the plate with a sinking heart. Looks like someone forgot to put the thing together.
I looked enviously over at The Wife to my right, who was busy tucking away an insanely delicious-looking warm potato dumpling concoction with a creamy sauce and bits of green onion and herbs all over it, and then to my friend on the left who was forking into two of the largest stone crab claws I've ever seen. I put on a brave face, smeared a radish half with some of the butter, and dabbed it in the salt and . . .
It was good. Unbeliveably good. Crisp and spicy radish with the creamy artisinal butter and the zip of the salt. In fact, it's hard to think of what cooking or marinating or other preparation could have possibly added to the combination.
I guess one could make the argument that this isn't really cooking: it's just someone shopping for you. But I don't care. It's sort of like those rubes who look at Abstract Expressionist art and say, "hell, my ten year old could paint that!" Yes, he probably could. But did he paint it? Would he ever think to if he didn't have a Jackson Pollock version to imitate?
Now, coming fast on the heels of my having a phenomenal "Spring Radish Puree" soup at Soif a few weeks ago, I am in danger of developing a full-on radish obsession. Now if I could just get Mike Lata to spill the beans and tell me where he gets those local radishes . . .