Farmers’ Market Update

by | Aug 9, 2008

I hope that last week I managed to convince some of you to venture out to the farmers’ market today. This, my friends, is the absolute best time of year to buy fresh produce from local farmers. Never is the quality of food so strikingly different from what you get at the grocery store as it is in late summer. It reminds me of when I was living in Italy and it seemed like everyday I ate the best ________ I’ve ever had in my life.

Let’s start with the tomatoes. Remember back when you were a kid and somebody told you a tomato is really a fruit and you didn’t believe them? To a kid, tomatoes are vegetables because they aren’t sweet like fruit. Well, I guarantee you if you gave that child one of the tomatoes from today’s market they would understand that indeed, a tomato is a fruit. To put it bluntly, these beauties are like candy. And there are so many varieties to choose from! Zebra Stripe, Brandywine, Early Girl, Cherokee purple…. Remarkable.

Next, the stone fruits. Peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots, nectaplums. It seems farmers don’t have any difficulty crossing stone fruits to create delicious new varieties, and right now every single one of them is sweet (beyond description) and delicious. At Twin Girls Farm today I tasted a Sweet Burgundy Plum that was as intensely flavored as a wine grape (if you’ve only ever had grapes from Safeway and the like, you have no idea what I’m talking about). The pluots though, are in rare form. What I refer to as the “flavor monarchy”–Flavor Queens, Flavor Kings, Flavor Grenades–is clearly taking pride in living up to its name. For those who don’t know, Flavor Queens are the golden green variety, Flavor Kings are a rich purple, and Flavor Grenades are speckled gold, red and purple. (psst: the Flavor Kings from Frog Hollow today are truly out of this world).

Grapes are also starting to appear on the scene. The precious Zante currants (aka Champagne grapes, see pic) were absolutely irresistible. Each fruit is only about the size of a BB, but they are amazingly sweet and flavorful.

Piles of orange, yellow and purple carrots were a favorite among spectators today. Greens are also at an all-time high with wild arugula, tatsoi, spinach, beet greens, radicchio, lettuces and even more exotic items like purslane. Leaves are fluffy, crisp, green and red, just begging to be turned into salads. And like last week the peppers, both sweet and spicy, are in abundance.

Other purchases include:

  • Mediterranean cucumbers
  • Summer squash
  • Pimientos de Padron
  • Basil
  • Italian parsley
  • Okra
  • Blackberries
  • Baby leeks

I really am beginning to think we should change Thanksgiving to August. Get it while the gettin’s good everyone!

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