Ryan Pera treasures his Saturdays, though he never sits down and the days tend to top 12 hours.
Saturdays are farmers' market days, when The Grove Restaurant's executive chef picks the produce he'll use in that evening's specials and, more important, finds a few hours not to answer phone calls but to cook.
"My challenge is to use what's available to me," Pera says of going to market. "I try not to corner myself."
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Last weekend we followed Pera as he collected the goods for a local citrus salad -- grapefruits, kumquats, satsumas, Page mandarins, Meyer lemons, haricots verts, baby carrots, radishes and turnips, purple cauliflower. He added some arugula, toasted hazelnuts and Texas goat cheese from the cooler, pickled and spiced the cauliflower (star anise, cloves, cinnamon, allspice and others) and finished the dish with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Pera prepped enough produce to fill 15 orders, though six orders came in at 6 p.m. even before the dinner rush, and it seemed likely other cooks would need to tackle more prep work later in the night.
For a video following the dish from Pera's morning market visit to its finished version that evening, click above.
The Grove is located on Discovery Green next to the convention center at 1611 Lamar St.