I asked Ana Sortun just what she'd put on the piece of sea bass she wrapped with blanched brussels-sprout leaves, a new leaf I wanted to try as soon as I tasted its firm, textured, slightly sweet flavor.
But the rest of what she tucked in while we shot our video was equally fresh and memorable, and though I knew there were new potatoes, I wasn't sure of the spicing. She told me that she sprinkled sumac, the indispensably lemony thyme-like eastern Mediterranean herb, and had spread a bit of parsley-and-whipped garlic sauce. It's a standard component of dishes at her restaurant in Cambridge, across the river from Boston.
It was the broad beans I wanted to buy along with the brussels-sprout leaves--dappled and pretty to look at, almost as good as my plain-Jane favorite summer bean, romano. And I saw them again Monday night, at Peter Hoffman's bright, hip Back Forty, in the East Village. They were part of a marvelous outdoor supper he served family-style, in a big outdoor garden at long wooden tables--the nicest way to eat, I think, and particularly unusual in New York City.
A summer shell bean salad with pancetta was practically as meaty and rich as the slow-roasted pork shoulder he served them with, but it was a tossed-off salad of fresh string beans in a strongly tarragon lemon vinaigrette I couldn't resist. In with the haricots verts (so much prettier and thinner and blander and duller than zaftig romanos) were my new friends, those dappled, yellow-based wax beans.
"Dragon's lingerie!" I cried. Peter and his chef, Shanna, said, "Around here, we call them dragon's tongue."
I felt proud. For once stodgy, starchy Boston had settled on a sexier name than New York!