When Cyndy arrived this week, she was bearing gifts from the garden: long-awaited Pink Girl tomatoes and fresh peaches from Peach Tree Farm in Columbia. As a bonus, she brought along a jar of tomato jam, that’s so good on BLTs, especially when the fresh tomatoes begin to wane. But you have to buy it when you see it, because not many places carry the condiment.
The question du jour—where to eat lunch—had earlier been resolved. Definitely outdoors. At Cafe Provencal. In Kirkwood. Followed by a stop at the farmers’ market. Off we went . . . .
Lunch Parisian Style
Since we’re not likely to get to Paris anytime soon, what better than to meet up with our French friend, Anne-Sophie at Cafe Provencal. It’s been more than six months since we’d seen her. She’d been to Notre Dame following the fire, so she could bring us a first-hand report of the damage and ongoing restoration.
As we caught up on local and world happenings, we enjoyed a variety of rustic foods from the south of France.
Next Up: Kirkwood Farmers’ Market
I can’t get through Kirkwood without a stop at the Farmers’ Market. It’s downright therapeutic pinching the melons and ogling the tomatoes. I picked up a few zucchinis, since I had more squash recipes stacked on my kitchen counter than I had zucchini.
Watermelons: “Are You a Thumper, Sniffer or Plugger?”
I sniffed the vine-ripe watermelon. I’m always tempted to ask for a melon to be plugged, since that’s what my father would’ve required at a roadside stand or open market.
Now, for those of you who’ve never seen this done, the farmer would go to the back of his pickup and thump a few melons. After selecting one, he’d take a grimy pocket knife from his bib-top overalls, make a triangular jab into the melon, and offer you the chunk off the end of his knife. (Some skill was required to keep your tongue intact while tasting.)
Instead of asking for a plug, I inquired of the youngster standing near the melon stand as to the variety. He said they were locally grown. I immediately dropped that line of inquiry and asked about the taste. He pointed me to a bowl of melon chunks resting on ice with a clear plastic cover and a nearby stash of toothpicks. I executed the necessary maneuver for tasting and nodded approvingly.
But then I could hear my father’s voice in my head: “How do you know that piece came from the melon you’re buying?” I ignored it. Why should I play this game with the melons, when I don’t with the tomatoes or the zucchini? Besides, it was seedless! Those melons of yore had more seeds than a sack of bird feed. I plopped a chunk of the locally-grown, mystery melon into my cart and checked out.
It was superb!
Cafe Provencal. 427 S. Kirkwood Rd., Kirkwood. Hours: Lunch: Mon-Sat 11a-2; Dinner: Mon 5p-9p; Tue-Thu 5p-10p; Fri=Sat 5p-11p.