The best part about working at a seasonal, farm-to-table restaurant? (Besides the in house-fermented pickles and fish sauce and smoked bacon and, okay fine, everything else involved?) Everything changes when the weather turns, spring being the most exciting of all, in my humble opinion. I’ve always been ecstatic about bringing new green life into my home kitchen when everything begins to bloom, but being up to my elbows in it every day at work is that happiness times a thousand.
Spring in western Pennsylvania, so far, means knobbly sunchokes that call to be scrubbed of the fresh earth that has hitched along in their crevices, beautifully curled garlic scapes, and scratchy nettles that beg for a double layer of gloves to pluck their leaves intent on pesto destiny.
Nettles will always hold a special place in my heart–they were the essence of the first dish I ever tasted at Legume, in a wonderfully fragrant nettle soup sprinkled with toasted breadcrumbs and swirled with cream. It was last April when I first sat in the dining room as a customer with a lunchtime interview for the job that allowed to move to Pittsburgh with Alex, my then-boyfriend, now-fiancee. It was that weekend of our first visit to the Steel City that we also found our campus-adjacent apartment, right across the street from the restaurant. I’m not a believer in fate. But I have high confidence in some damn fortuitous real estate.