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Farmers Market Update: SummWinter

by | Oct 18, 2009
Hot Sauce

Hot Sauce

If I were only going to talk about one thing today it would have to be the peppers. What a season we are having! There are so many varieties I’m having trouble deciding what to buy each week.

Saturday I learned that ancho chilies–which I have only had dried–are actually just mature poblano peppers. Poblanos are the big dark green peppers (left in the photo below) that come stuffed with cheese and breaded in egg batter when you order chile relleno. (A good chile relleno might be my favorite Mexican food ever, but only from here. Half my family is Mexican, so I’m a little picky.)

This is the first time I’ve seen red Japanese Shishito peppers as well. They are usually green.

Red Japanese Shishito Peppers

Red Japanese Shishito Peppers

Ancho Chilies

Ancho Chilies

Anyway, I didn’t know you could ever find fresh anchos. For some reason I thought ancho defined some specific preparation of chili like chipotle, which is a smoked jalepeno. But it seems they are a type of pepper unto themselves, but also a version of a pepper I was familiar with. Confusing, I know.

Since poblanos are often spicy I expected the anchos to be even more so (peppers get hotter with age), but they were actually really sweet with only a hint of spice. I had them in eggs. It was amazing.

I also found a new variety of eggplant today, the como eggplant. These eggplants are small and dark, almost black, and very firm. This is because they have very little water and thus do not require the pre-salt that most eggplants need. They are supposed to be very sweet, creamy and not at all bitter. I couldn’t help but buy a few from Allstar Organics.

…Not sure what to make of this other eggplant I found….

Nixon Eggplant or Tricky Dick?

Nixon Eggplant or Tricky Dick?

Como Eggplants

Como Eggplants

But despite the prevalence of all this beautiful summer produce, the signs of imminent winter are not subtle.

I saw the first early citrus this week, including Meyer lemons (not quite ripe) and sweet limes. If you’ve never had a sweet lime, imagine if you tasted a lime that wasn’t sour at all. Then imagine it tasting a little bit like fake lime flavor. It’s weird. You probably wouldn’t want to eat it like you would any other sweet citrus fruit, but it is fabulous in cocktails. They are certainly worth playing around with.

First Sweet Limes

First Sweet Limes

First Meyer Lemons

First Meyer Lemons

But let’s not jump too fast from summer to winter. Autumn is providing us with spectacular heirloom apples, pears, pomegranates and grapes. And today I found quince!

Quince is a very old fruit that is like a mix between an apple and a pear, except you can’t eat it raw. But bake it in the oven or into some dessert and quince takes on a sublime flavor and creamy consistency almost like jelly. I’m not much of a pastry chef, but I like to cut a quince in half and bake it for dessert now and then.

Quince

Quince

Swaar Dutch Apples

Swaar Dutch Apples

I’m also delighted to announce that the first chocolate persimmons of the year have appeared! They are at Hamada Farms, so go get some while you can. I didn’t buy any today because there was a huge black spider on them (not pictured…she was hiding) and I’m a wimp, but I totally would have. Totally.

Spinach

Spinach

First Chocolate Persimmons

First Chocolate Persimmons

Also notable is that Green Gulch Farm called it quits for the season today, they will return next spring. I bought some spinach to remember them by.

Despite the rain, the dry-farmed early girl tomatoes from Dirty Girl Produce were…wait for it…even better than usual this week. I realize this makes no sense, but I swear.

I was happy to find that I could still get Soul Food eggs from Prather Ranch. I wasn’t sure they would be available after the devastating fire a few weeks ago. Happy to see they are still truckin’ along 🙂

And last but not least, I couldn’t say no to these beets from Capay Organics. Beets are always a great deal because you get 2 dishes out of a bunch: the roots and the greens.

The broccoli is looking pretty darn good these days too.

Organic Broccoli

Organic Broccoli

Beautiful Beets

Beautiful Beets

Today’s Purchases:

What are you eating?

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The Chocolate Persimmon

by | Dec 7, 2008

Ever since I mentioned the chocolate persimmon the questions have been rolling in. Are there really chocolate persimmons? What do they taste like? Where can I find them?

I even know someone who dreamt about them.

This weekend I finally got a hold of some chocolate persimmons of my own, the first I have seen this season.

Officially called Tsurunoko, chocolate persimmons are of the non-astringent variety, similar to fuyus. However they are unique in that the flesh inside is more brown than orange and the flavor is sweeter. These are highly sought after fruits; when ripe they do indeed possess subtle notes of chocolate flavor.

Like the fuyu, the texture of a chocolate persimmon is firm (not jelly-soft like the hachiya).

Keep your eyes out for Maru, or “cinnamon persimmons,” and Hyakume, “brown sugar persimmons” as well.

The vendor at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market said that the weather has not been favorable for persimmons this year because it is too dry. The season will be short, so be sure to get yours next week.

Has anyone else been able to find chocolate or other specialty persimmons?

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Farmers Market Update

by | Dec 6, 2008

turnips

It was 40 degrees when I woke up this morning. I am sure some of you consider that warm, but to me it may as well have been below zero. Cold, any cold, makes me extremely uncomfortable. The last thing I wanted to do was get out of my warm comfy bed, but the farmers market was calling. chocolate persimmons

For two weeks now I have been longing for a refrigerator full of vegetables and today I finally got one.

Despite the frigid temperature it was a beautiful day in San Francisco. The sun was shining and the Ferry Building was bustling. One nice thing about the winter time is that the crowds are not as cumbersome as they are in the summer, so it is easier to linger and savor the quaint beauty of locals seeking fresh market goods.

As expected, citrus fruits are starting to reach their peak. Grapefruits, oranges, pomelos and lemons have traded in their sour acidity for tangy sweetness, and today I bought my first Mandarin oranges.stinging nettles

The most exciting find though was the elusive chocolate persimmon. Orange on the outside and brown on the inside, these sweet pulpy treats are nothing short of wonderful. I was told there are only a couple weeks left in the season, so get them while you can!

As for vegetables, someone at Star Route (Marin Organics) finally talked me into buying those stinging nettles we discussed a few months ago. I will let you know how it goes.

Still on a mission to perfect the roasted root vegetable lunch, I also stocked up on rhizoid goodies.

Today’s purchases:

  • Chocolate persimmons
  • Hachiya persimmons
  • Pomegranate
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Meyer lemon
  • Pink lady apple
  • Fuji apple
  • Leeks
  • Romanesco broccoli
  • Golden beets
  • Rutabaga
  • 1 giant carrot
  • 1 giant parsnip
  • Stinging nettles
  • Yellow eye beans
  • Dinosaur kale
  • Soul Food eggs
  • Acme epi loaf
  • Nossa Senhora de Fatima (Blue Bottle) coffee
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