Don’t tell anyone, but the real reason I’m in my line of business may or may not be the jewelry. I have what can probably be called an unhealthy obsession with Central Asian earrings, whether Bukharan antiques or the work of contemporary craftsmen. I love the intricate geometric shapes, the colorful stones, and the creative use of materials ranging from Tsarist-era coins to animal bones.
I recently took advantage of the fact that the archives are closed on the last Friday of the month to visit Serzhan Bashirov, a well-known Kazakh silversmith who does a beautiful job of fusing the traditional and the modern. I drove out to his workshop on the outskirts of Almaty with a couple of friends, and we admired his work as well as his impressive collection of Kazakh antiquities, which includes a fully outfitted yurt set up in the back yard. Earrings plus homemade plov make for a perfect afternoon in my book.
I’m going to take this opportunity to share another, more recent obsession: sorrel. After months of nothing but dubious Chinese spinach, the bazaar is suddenly bursting with greens, and sorrel seems to be everywhere. I’d only ever had it in the traditional Polish sorrel soup, but recently I’ve been eating it with everything—quinoa, braised radishes, lentils, eggs. I’ve been making a lot of sorrel salads, which usually leave me with plenty of leftover stems. Naturally, the result is pesto. Here’s to hoping sorrel season lasts indefinitely, or at least for a few months!
Makes about 1/2 cup
100 g/3.5 oz fresh sorrel (leaves and/or stems)
50 g/2 oz pine nuts
25 g/1 oz Parmesan
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Zest of half a lemon
Pinch of sea salt
Combine ingredients in food processor. Blend until smooth. Serve with pasta, fish, salads, or wherever else you use pesto!