Chefs René Redzepi and Daniel Patterson were prowling the fields of County Line Harvest, a Bay Area farm in the Marin County hills. The two were assessing the greens and root vegetables growing in the rich dirt, in anticipation of a weekend spent cooking together at Patterson’s house in Oakland, California. Their goal was to explore the question, How does inspiration turn into a recipe?
Soon, Redzepi was pulling up a Tokyo turnip from the ground. As he examined it, he regaled Patterson with tales of turnips in Kyoto, Japan, that, he said, “Eat like ripe pears—crazy juicy. There’s no bitterness; they taste intensely and deeply of turnip.” Patterson was a few yards away, extolling the sweetness and “complete wraparound broccoli flavor” of the leaves of young broccoli shoots. “They’re so much better than just the florets,” he said.
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Acres of northern California produce can overwhelm even two of the world’s best chefs. Redzepi proposed a restriction: that they work only with vegetables from within two square meters of County Line Harvest. Patterson agreed, and from a postage-stamp-size plot, he and Redzepi began filling tote bags with shelling peas, pea shoots, infant broccoli, broccoli rabe flowers and a weed called sour grass, or sorrel.