As per Adam’s request, we spent his birthday morning wandering the place he loves the most — Marche Jean-Talon. After a few hours of snacks and shopping (and some disturbingly overpriced tacos at El Rey del Taco), we headed home, backpacks heavy with vegetables, and fixed up a quick birthday luncheon worthy of the bountiful harvest. In Quebec, our time spent enjoying vegetables feels precious, and my need to ingest ridiculous amounts of produce while I still can borders on the obscene.
In that vein, we prepared a skillet of buttery, seared baby fennel and garlic, which was creamy, sweet, and only faintly crunchy. I arranged a platter of stewed French Puy lentils with bacon, parsley, and lemon, and served it with some of this summer’s refrigerator dilly beans, quartered heirloom tomatoes, a single golden beet, and slender curls of carrots. There was a modest heap of roasted cauliflower, a handful of sweet bread-and-butter pickles, and half of a peppery sliced radish. We had some final end of season corn, sauteed and tossed with torn basil, and small spicy peppers stuffed with olives and breadcrumbs that an old Italian grandmother gave Adam as a birthday present. (Her son works here).
The best part of the midday birthday feast? A fresh, heavy tub of ricotta, still warm, purchased out of the back of someone’s van in Little Italy. I smeared mine on the tomatoes and covered everything in fleur de sel.