I was eating breakfast this morning, just kind of sitting around contemplating my upcoming day and still adjusting to being back in the country. I paused for a moment and looked down. Oh so pretty. And mighty simple and delicious. It reinforced how good something can be when its made/grown with care and pretty much left alone to do its thing. It was a simple pile of radishes, butter and salt. Nothing much at first glance but definitely worth a deeper look.
It’s a pretty simple and classic snack in parts of France and I’m not sure where or when I first heard of it but I do know my first thought was “well, that’s kind of weird. Butter on a radish?” But like most things tasty, it surprised me in it’s simplicity. I tried it once, haven’t looked back and I’ve turned others onto it too. There are some lovely memories of a spread at a rented french farmhouse, dipping and nibbling with a cold glass of rose and dear friends. There have been many an al fresco meal at my place, happily munching away delighting in the faces of others as they discover my treat. And of course, countless snacks in my own kitchen usually enjoyed standing at the counter dragging a radish right through the butter container leaving a long messy trail.
So this morning, I had a few beautiful breakfast radishes, the long skinny peppery kind, that I picked up at The Green City Market. I really like this variety and grew some in my little garden plot this summer but any radish will work, even the round little bulbs you find at the grocery store. However, it must be said that I greatly prefer the elongated shape of a breakfast radish because it has a good amount of surface area to hold more butter. That’s just how I roll. Check out your farmer’s market and see what they have; breakfast radishes are becoming easier to find as are multi-hued “rainbow” radishes.
There was some Nordic Creamery “summer butter”, also from GCM. I love this stuff – it’s creamy, tasty and just good ‘ol buttery. I realize that sounds kind of stupid but when you eat mass-produced butter and then try this, there is a noticeable difference. The flavor is worlds apart. I asked the cheesemaker, Al, what makes it “summer” butter as opposed to“winter” butter (which he’ll have in a few weeks) or just plain old “butter”. His answer was so obvious I felt like a dope. In the summer, the cows are out to pasture eating sweet grass. Now get this: what the cow eats affects the flavor profile of the milk, which affects the flavor of the butter. Duh. In the winter, the cows are indoors eating hay thereby changing the flavor of the milk. It’s so obvious. I never thought about it that much and I love it. Now then, if you don’t have access to summer butter get yourself some good butter, like Irish Butter or Plugra which is getting much easier to find these days. It’ll make a difference.
Also key to this little snack is sea salt. And it has to be sea salt, not kosher and definitely not iodized. Eeewww. I particularly like Murray River pink salt because of the wide flat flakes and it’s a rather pretty light pink but Maldon would be good and fleur de sel would be traditional.
Now what you do is take a radish, smear it with some good butter and dab it in a little sea salt. Bite. It’s absolutely delicious. Crunchy, piquant, creamy, zippy. Love it love it love it. One of my favorite restaurants in town has this on the menu occasionally, with homemade goat butter, and it just sends me over the moon. I love that they have the balls to put something so easy and pristine on the menu. Good simple fresh food is such a great thing to see. And eat.
So what am I telling you? Try it. You’ll like it.