Morel mushroomsHow I loved my visit to the Midwest! Summer arrived late there, so in a delicious replay of California’s late spring, I enjoyed the last local ramps and morels, the height of green garlic and English peas, and the season’s first fresh herbs. In a morning rain at Chicago’s Green City Market, Chef Michael Tsonton and I found spring onions, asparagus, peas, and fragrant dill for our “green” Farmers’ Market Risotto cooking demonstration (recipe: The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook, page 136). And, I sampled the season’s first Queen Anne and Bing cherries. These were not jammy California flavor bombs, but cherries with the sweet-acid complexity of cold-climate fruit.

While in Michigan, I was introduced to exceptional local wines (notably Brys Estate and Wyncroft) by Matthew Millar, the visionary chef-owner of Journeyman Café in Fennville. Fenn Valley is fertile farmland, and much of the delicious meal I enjoyed at Journeyman was grown within a mile of the café. Alex Young, executive chef at Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, has taken his food sourcing to another level—he’s become a farmer whose goal is to supply half the restaurant’s produce needs. I had a great time at the 3-year-old Westside Farmers’ Market out front of the restaurant (sorghum! more cherries!), followed by a lively local/seasonal discussion and lovely buffet of recipes from my book. Can’t wait until my next visit!