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On the palette of seasonality, green is certainly the color of spring. In all but the warmest parts of the country, winter makes its mark with dulled colors, depleted market shelves, and hearty preparations of root vegetables, legumes, and the like. And then spring bursts onto the scene with vibrant hues – from delicate, light English pea to grassy, two-toned asparagus, inspiring pairings and plating that celebrate its energy in both flavor and design.
Spring comes at a similar time in both San Francisco and Atlanta – they share comparable winter climates and fertile ground that yields favas, peas, asparagus, green garlic, and spring onions in the first months of the year. These are the stars of the seasonal recipes from chefs on both sides of the country – Phil West at San Francisco’s Range draws inspiration from barely-dressed artichokes, caramelized spring onions, fragrant green garlic and stinging nettles, using a minimum number of ingredients to achieve maximum flavor and lightness. James Syhabout of PlumpJack Café plays on the ubiquitous pairing of egg, asparagus and ham with an artfully constructed dish of light yellow sabayon, fat asparagus spears, and a quenelle of ham hock and herb puree.
On the other side of the country, Drew Belline of Floataway Café serves asparagus three ways – raw, blanched, pureed with tarragon – and studded with seared scallops, bright d’Avignon radishes and lemon zest in what could be called, based on appearance, “Spring in a Bowl.” And at Five and Ten and Park 75, Chefs Hugh Acheson and Robert Gerstenecker pair creamy young peas with sweet crustaceons and mint, the first with peekytoe crab and crème fraiche, and the latter with a seared langoustine and chewy Sardinian couscous.