It’s been a month since starting work at Cavey’s in Manchester, CT and we have just started to receive all of the local spring goods such as ramps, fiddlehead ferns, and mushrooms. The one that has surprised me the most though is, the local fish, Shad. When shad season starts you better have it in your restaurant, we receive calls daily asking if we are running any shad specials or if it has made it to our menu. I was more excited to get the roe as I have not had a chance to work with it much, until we got the filets from our fishmonger. Each filet of Shad has four rows of curved bones and the art of filleting Shad is a 400 year old tradition for most fishmonger’s. The fish is very similar to herring and is typically and best served with the roe, and at Cavey’s we wrap the roe in pancetta before pan frying.
The same day the Shad arrived we received another shipment of fresh ramps and black bass, and since I am an amateur with the shad I decided to tackle a bass special. This dish was inspired by the long awaited spring and the desire to grill. I started this special by poaching some fingerling potatoes in seasoned water then allowing them to cool in the fridge. We only want to par cook them because we will be grilling them later when ready to use. After spending an hour or so cleaning ramps I sautéed the bulbs and when they became tender I added the green tops until they wilted. I placed this mixture in a blender and created a very bright and flavorful purée that will be used as the sauce. My favorite attribute of black bass is the thin skin that is great when fried or grilled when left on the fish. Scoring the skin in a few spots helps prevent the fish from curling too much when being cooked. The final key component is the asparagus, since the season is just starting to take off we have had the opportunity to get some local product that is out of this world. The best way to cook asparagus is from raw and either roasting or grilling until tender but still crisp, and for this special I chose to roast them in a hot oven
Finally, there have been a bunch of tasting menus from vegetarian to all meat since the last post so here are the ones I was able to capture.