Le sacre du printemps
‘Tis also plain old spring. Days lengthen, the weather improves, all the bulbs that other people plant are pushing up shoots. Soon the Tendercrop Farm calves will begin appearing alongside their mothers in the saltmarsh fields of Newbury, ewes will be lambing, and the house finches that love to build their nest in my entryway’s hanging plant will be hatching their eggs. Tra la, tra la! I’m more than a little happy. Right now, all I want to do is celebrate spring.
How? I ventured out on a little springtime shopping excursion yesterday, barely minding the cold spring downpour, to buy the makings of a spring celebration basket.
Call it an Easter basket if you must, but that name seems limiting to me. This basket – my very own rite of spring – celebrates an entire season, not a holiday. Try making one for yourself or someone you love. Dip into your chosen treats on one sunny weekend day and feel your own spring celebration coming on.
I have some suggestions to get you started, but the joy of a spring basket is that you can pull together anything and everything you like. The only rule is, selections should say “spring” to you. Here are a few things that say just that to me.
My ideal basket is built around the creamy bubbles of a domestic sparkler. Anything Schramsberg is a treat, but their pink is extremely nice.
Enjoy the Schramsberg early in the day with a brace of warm morning croissants (cold butter and homemade jam encouraged but optional). Toast the sunrise.
If a morning imbibe isn’t your thing, save the bubbly for later in the day. Serve it with a pre-dinner nibble of something salty. Like Marcona almonds. Or this Spanish Cocktail mix (almonds, pistachios, corn nuts, dry roasted favas and chickpeas), my latest snack obsession.
Sparkling wine can also waken a dinner appetite, especially if served right before dinner with a bit of young cheese. Just a bit. The Robiola Due Latti (cow’s and sheep’s milk), a fine spring-production cheese, is fresh and grassy tasting, perfect for a light starter course.
Take the last few sips of wine with some chocolate.
Well, maybe not with this white chocolate bunny. Although I’m fascinated with this vintage bunny-shaped chocolate mold, I’m not so fond of white chocolate. But I do like milk, especially when it’s fine quality, includes a dusting of sea salt, and is produced right down the street.
However, I will make an exception for white chocolate when it includes a dose of whimsy. Bunnies may symbolize Easter, but frogs are pure spring.
Whichever table you set, whatever time of day, bring some of the outdoors indoors. Cut flowers are nice, but something that lasts is nicer. Flowers with roots will transfer from centerpiece to outdoor garden, guaranteeing that a part of your spring will live on forever.
But for the non-gardeners (like me), a living plant must be something that is practically unkillable. Even with the deadliest gardening thumbs on the planet, I have had good luck with members of the cacti family.
What might your spring celebration basket look like?
©2011 Jane A. Ward