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Prospects Rising

26 Mar

I’m going to go out on a limb here. I think spring has sprung.

Croci are blooming, Roger Clark has shed his ugly green jacket, and my mother tells me the vultures have returned Upstate (she swears this is a surer sign of spring than the return of the robins).

Prospect Park Croci

But what’s the surest sign of spring, chez Granny Cart? Yep, you guessed it, a very long walk.

12 miles to be exact, and with three distinct goals.

1. To show the boy Prospect Park at a time other than New Year’s Eve.

2. To have brunch at Prospect Heights’ jealousy-inducing Beast (I wish we had a spot like this in Bay Ridge).

3. To go to Fairway.

Prospect Park Entrance

We entered from the south through the horse tamers’ gate and headed around the lake.

Prospect Park Geese

Idyllic isn’t it? Until you notice that gigantic styrofoam cup.

Prospect Park Water Fowl

There was a little girl throwing bread crumbs to the birds. That swan was one foul fowl. I have a healthy fear of them, having been bitten (beaked?) by one in my teens.

Prospect Park Arch

There’s that guy that’s always getting in the way of my pictures.

Prospect Park Elm

This is the Camperdown Elm. Apparently it was planted in 1872, has a genetic mutation which causes it to grow outwards rather than upwards and is resistent to Dutch elm disease. That’s some tree!

Prospect Park Water Fall

Doesn’t this scene remind you of a Bob Ross painting?

Prospect Park Bridge

Retreating glaciers left little ponds and rills in the park which Olmstead and Vaux worked into their plans.

Prospect Park Meets The 'dacks

They also designed parts of the park to remind you of the Adirondacks. This nearly-hidden pagoda certainly did.

Prospect Park Trees Love Kites

It was a beautiful breezy day, perfect for flying kites… But the trees will always get one or two.

Prospect Park Snakes

One of the stranger design conceits are the large Grecian urns lining the park’s wall that feature intertwined snakes as handles. They’re rather realistic, and just a little bit creepy.

Grand Army Plaza

I love any park that sandwiches its north/south entrance with grand monuments featuring horses. This arch sits at Grand Army Plaza, home to a wonderful Greenmarket on Saturdays.

By this time we had about 6.5 miles under out belts, on empty stomachs. It was time to stop and refuel. Two beers, two coffees, two poached eggs, Beast’s incredible roasted potatoes, some polenta and a grilled vegetable sandwich later, we headed west.

Ah, The Majestic Gowanus

Someday, just maybe, the Gowanus canal will be beautiful. But for now? Not so much.

Smith St. Pussy Willows

I was absolutely gobsmacked to see this pussy willow tree growing in the middle of industrial Brooklyn, directly below the Smith-9th St. subway station.

Smith St. Pussy Willows

It’s such a misnomer to call this elevated platform a subway station, as it rises 91 feet into the air and is the highest one in the system. The views are incredible.

Carroll Gardens Church

Eventually, we finally made it to Fairway. Why was getting there so important? Because I have been suffering from a major squid joness. Why? I read somewhere that Atlantic squid are at their most tender and flavorful in the late-winter/early-spring.

Squid & Cockle pasta

I kept trying to get them at our local fish shop, but I was always late. And then I’d see them at the Greenmarket, but would always be doing something later that evening that made carrying around a pound or two of fresh cephalopods a little, well, inconvenient.

And so finally I decided that if I couldn’t get fresh, local squid at Fairway, I’d give up. Thankfully giving up was not a necessary option.

Squid & Cockle pasta

Fairway had them. They also had the most beautiful New Zeland cockles (yes, I know, totally not local, but they’re delicious, so ease up) and gorgeous, aromatic sweet limes.

Squid & Cockle pasta

In fact the squid were so fresh one still had dinner in its belly. Kinda gross, but I took it as a sign of quality.

Dinner could not have been easier. Chop some French shallots, some garlic, sautée, squeeze a lime, add some vermouth, pop in the cockles, toss in the squid and then serve over top of radicchio pasta.

Squid & Cockle pasta

I don’t know if these noodles are available everywhere. I got mine the same place I got the farro curlicues. There’s not much of a raddichio flavor, but the color is lovely and the texture is simply out of sight. They cooked up to an almost ridiculously perfect al dente.

Our only misstep was not having any bread around to sop up the sauce. It was sweet and luscious and perefctly briny.

Squid & Cockle pasta

Oh, well, next time.

Good thing I’ve still got some squid stowed away in the freezer.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Squid & Cockle Pasta with Alliums Three-Ways.

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