Could I Have Been Wrong About Schwa on Menu Monday
Last week I broke my Schwa maiden. I had no intention of writing about Schwa on the Local Beet until I got near the end of our procession of courses, some strawberry soup. It did not matter that the meal included such seasonal treats as corn, zucchini, and beets (pics of much of what we ate can be found here), I focused, like the obsessive dork that I am, on the strawberries and an earlier course involving peas. Just because Schwa was a fun and enjoyable experience did not mean I could not take them to task for their lack of local. Then, super-restaurant insider Ellen Malloy asked in our comments, “Rob. Did you ask Michael about the strawberries and peas? Or did you make an assumption they weren’t local?”
Notice I’ve been avoiding responding to that question. Do I have a real good answer for Ellen. Did I ask? Well, I did not so much ask as express my disappointment to the chefs, and one of the chefs, not Michael, did confess that the dish was about to be gone from the menu–Shchwa’s just returned from a little hiatus and this was clearly a time of transition for them. I just, not so wisely, ran with the assumption that peas and strawberries could not be local as I have not seen them for ages in my CSA box or at the various markets and stores I attend. Except there Saturday at Green City Market, at the Nichol’s stand, where I was paying for my Cox Orange Pippin apples, boxes of strawberries.
Even before then, when I was trying to figure out how to respond to Ellen, I knew that Nichol’s has been growing a late season strawberry. I also knew that peas were possible if a farmer did a second planting, although I knew of no one doing that around here. I have to say then, that I was wrong about focusing on the local-ness of Schwa’s offering, especially as it is clearly possible that the strawberries in the strawberry soup could be local. Let me then instead do what all writers do when wrestled into a corner of dubious reporting. Change the argument.
Should Schwa have used peas and strawberries on their menu on the first day of September. Hell no! Who cares the locality of the products. Strawberries and peas speak of s different time of year for me, and they seem off-putting on a menu at the end of summer. I think I mentioned that the pea dish itself was so-so in flavor, but I will confess that the strawberry soup tasted just fine. Listen, if I cannot say nice things about a place, can I write about restaurants in the first place? And everyone else has such nice things to say about Schwa. Me, I say it’s fun and not seasonal enough.
Then, I go for my anniversary to Katsu and revel in the most non-local meal imaginable, with blue fin tuna to boot. What in the name of Michael Pollan am I doing. Do I have any shred of credibility left on this Menu Monday? Should I not have focused on the three kinds of heirloom apples I got this weekend, the pile of chili peppers that gets bigger and bigger. Could I not talk about the summer butter from Nordic Creamery that should be giving everyone a reason to go to Green City Market. How ’bout warning you all to get your last fix of peaches as their season is about to go kaputsky. Those things may matter more to all of us living the local life, but if I’m wrong about Schwa I want to make sure I say that.