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Farmers Market Update: Early Spring

by | Feb 19, 2012
Daikon Radish

Daikon Radish

Normally in San Francisco we lament our lack of summer. Despite being in California, this city is notorious for being buried under a 300 ft blanket of fog from June til August. But this year, winter is oddly lacking.

We’ve had some rainy days here and there, but they haven’t lasted long and have been interrupted with unapologetic bursts of sunshine. As you can imagine, this is affecting our crops.

Broccoli

Broccoli

Even though we’re only half way through February, winter produce has dwindled dramatically, and we’re already seeing spring vegetables like fava beans and green onions.

Spring Onions

Spring Onions

I don’t know if this makes me happy or sad, but it is definitely odd. I mean, isn’t there something wrong with this picture?

February Tomatoes

February Tomatoes

But the nice part is walking through the market is a pleasure. The sun is out, but I haven’t seen the thick crowds we get in the summertime on those rare nice days.

Romanesco

Romanesco

Today I focused largely on green vegetables, but also brought home some seasonal goodies like mandarins and walnut oil.

Roasted Walnut Oil

Roasted Walnut Oil

I’m not sure what to make of the weather, but at least I’ll be eating well.

Today’s purchases (~$40):

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Farmers Market Update: January in San Francisco

by | Jan 29, 2012
Romanesco

Romanesco

January in San Francisco is apparently a zillion times nicer than summer. Sure we had some rain last week, but it was so warm, clear and beautiful today I actually went to the market in a summer dress. After last year’s summer of fog, this is was glorious.

Bay Bridge

Bay Bridge

I don’t know if this is global warming or what. It’s certainly strange to see tulips, usually a hallmark of spring that appears in early April or late March, on the last weekend in January. Hard to complain though.

Tulips in January

Tulips in January

Despite the sun, most of the produce is still fairly wintery. One of the reasons I love this time of year is that brassica vegetables (the leafy greens) are so delicious now that eating lots of them is an absolute joy.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

I can’t get enough kale, broccoli, and cauliflower. This weekend we got a bunch of cabbage, daikon and carrots to make a big batch of healthy, probiotics-filled sauerkraut.

Leeks, Cabbage and Daikon

Leeks, Cabbage and Daikon

And speaking of carrots, they and other root vegetables like turnips and radishes are as sweet as can be. My puppy Toaster has learned to prefer these amazing farmers market carrots (yes my dog loves vegetables, go figure) and will actually turn his nose up at the ones I get at Whole Foods. Such a snob!

Colorful Carrots

Colorful Carrots

It’s also a great time for fennel.

Fennel

Fennel

For those of you still obsessed with my winter squash recipe, unfortunately they’re getting harder to find. That is, unless you prefer delicata the size of a watermelon.

Organic Winter Squash

Organic Winter Squash

All in all it was a lovely day. Happy winter!

Yellow Oyster Mushrooms

Yellow Oyster Mushrooms

Today’s purchases (~$20):

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Farmers Market Update: Thanksgiving Leftovers

by | Nov 28, 2010
Romanesco and Sweet Potatoes

Romanesco and Sweet Potatoes

Is Thanksgiving the official end of autumn? Because it sure feels like it.

The farmers market felt very different today than it did just a few weeks ago. Most of lingering summer vendors have finally packed up their wares for the winter. The only autumn fruits left are apples, persimmons, pears, quince and a few grapes. Luckily, citrus is poised to jump right into its place.

Fuyu Persimmons

Fuyu Persimmons

Hachiya Persimmons

Hachiya Persimmons

Naturally the weekend after Thanksgiving few people opted to visit the farmers market in the rain. These are my favorite days at the market, since it’s so quiet it is easy to talk to vendors and discover new things. A calm day at the market is a rare and wonderful treat.

Autumn Citrus

Autumn Citrus

There are a few special items available right now that will only be around for a little while. Feijoa, or pineapple guava, are delicious little green fruits that grow locally this time of year. I also found someone selling fresh ginger roots, stems and all.

Ginger Root

Ginger Root

Pineapple Guava

Pineapple Guava

Now is also a great time to get fresh seasonal nuts like walnuts and chestnuts.

Fresh Chestnuts

Fresh Chestnuts

Fresh Walnuts

Fresh Walnuts

One of my favorite things about the approach of winter is all the delicious winter veggies that are on the horizon. Vegetables tend to be overshadowed by the abundance of sweet berries and stone fruits in the summer, but in the winter vegetables are really the stars of the show. The cold stresses the veggies, causing them to condense their flavors and natural sugars.

Pumpkins and Padrons

Pumpkins and Padrons

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

Brassica, also known as cruciferous vegetables, are truly special this time of year. Examples of brassica are broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, etc. Root vegetables (like fennel and potatoes) and winter squash are also awesome right now. I included my favorite cauliflower recipe in this year’s Thanksgiving feast.

Winter Squash

Winter Squash

Fennel

Fennel

In the late fall I’m particularly excited about the Brussels sprouts that you can sometimes find still on the stalk. If you have never liked Brussels sprouts, try giving them another chance this year. Make sure you get very fresh ones (on the stalk if you can find them) from the farmers market, and buy the smallest ones you can find. Then try this recipe for Brussels sprouts with walnuts and bacon and come back and tell me what you think. Even Toaster likes Brussels sprouts.

Toaster With Sprout

Toaster With Sprout

Brussels Sprouts Stalks

Brussels Sprouts Stalks

Last but not least, now is your chance to get Super Mario sized porcini mushrooms. Fresh porcini are a delicacy, and worth experimenting with if you can get your hands on them.

Giant Porcini

Giant Porcini

What are you eating this weekend?

If you would like to share your own local farmers market with Summer Tomato readers please click here.

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: First Asparagus!

by | Feb 21, 2010
First Asparagus

First Asparagus

I guess spring is here for real. Behold: asparagus!

And it didn’t come alone.

Every week I’m seeing more spring produce popping up as if it were, um, springtime.

Cardoons

Cardoons

Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads are baby fern shoots that show up at Far West Fungi for a few weeks or so every spring. Cardoons–a unique and unwieldy vegetable–are also a rare seasonal find. Neither of these make my top 5 vegetables list, but they are fun to play around with if you are feeling adventurous.

I admit I’m a little more excited about the artichokes that are appearing everywhere. The past few years I’ve fallen in love with the baby ones, but I enjoy artichokes of all sizes. And it looks like I’m not the only one.

Artichoke Slug

Artichoke Slug

Cauliflower is peaking in season right now and trust me, you don’t want to miss it. Try roasting cauliflower florets at about 450 degrees with a little olive oil, sea salt, curry powder and coriander. Cover it with foil for the first 15 minutes, then remove the foil and let it brown until tender. Stir every 10 minutes or so. So easy and ridiculously tasty.

You can also find cauliflower’s prettier and more delicate cousin, romanesco.

Romanesco

Romanesco

Cauliflowers

Cauliflowers

Eggs are also easier to find at the farmers market this time of year. Right now I am smitten with the ones at Marin Sun Farms. They aren’t cheap, but they will blow you away. And you won’t get Salmonella.

Blood Oranges

Blood Oranges

Marin Sun Farms Eggs

Marin Sun Farms Eggs

The citrus season is also booming. Blood oranges and navels are wonderful right now, while the cute little clementines are almost gone. Also be sure to grab some Meyer lemons to squeeze on your asparagus and artichokes.

And root vegetables are still awesome.

Beautiful Turnips

Beautiful Turnips

Is it becoming springtime at your market?

Today’s purchases:

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Romanesco Broccoli with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

by | Nov 29, 2008

Romanesco broccoli has been popping up at farmers markets and restaurants across the Bay Area. The first time I saw it at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market it was so beautiful I could not resist buying it. But because I was unfamiliar with how it is normally cooked I was unsure how to prepare it.

Luckily, the same week I stumbled upon Romanesco broccoli it happened to be my birthday. For the occasion I had the luxury of eating at several great restaurants with this unique vegetable on the menu and got to taste it prepared by a few different chefs.

As a scientist I would argue that all this fine dining qualifies as research. It was very scientific too, I assure you.

If you are familiar with the scientific method you know that the first step is making an observation. My initial impression about Romanesco broccoli is that despite its name and green hue, the flavor and texture of this cruciferous vegetable resemble cauliflower more than broccoli. I also learned that it is usually prepared simply and pairs extremely well with garlic.

At home I decided to cook it in a frying pan using a quick steam technique (I think I made this up). I made a batch of roasted fingerling potatoes with rosemary to serve with it.

I must admit, this meal was way more delicious than I expected it to be. It would also be a beautiful accompaniment to roasted chicken, fish or pork.

Pan Steamed Romanesco Broccoli with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Romanesco Broccoli dish:

  • 1 medium leek
  • 2 small heads Romanesco broccoli
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1.5 tbsp water
  • 1.5 Meyer lemon juice & zest

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes:

  • 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Halve and chop potatoes to desired size and add to roasting pan. Finely chop a generous portion of fresh rosemary, about 1 tbsp. Once chopped, drizzle potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix well.

Place potatoes in oven and roast until golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes for about half hour, or until crisp.

While potatoes are roasting, clean and chop Romanesco broccoli into bite-sized florets. Clean and coursely chop leek. Peel and mince your garlic clove.

Heat olive oil on medium heat until it swirls easily in the pan. Add leeks and stir. Allow to cook about 2 minutes, then add garlic. After the garlic becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds, add broccoli and stir. Add salt and pepper.

Cover the pan and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add water and return cover to pan. Allow broccoli to steam for a minute or two, then stir. Add lemon juice and zest and continue cooking until tender, about 3-4 more minutes. Serve immediately.

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Farmers Market Update

by | Nov 15, 2008

romanesco broccoli

I must start by saying it is 80 degrees here in San Francisco and absolutely beautiful outside. In November! The farmers market at the Ferry Building was spectacular today, and for me few things are as inspirational as nice weather.

So I will just come out and say it: I went nuts.

Last week a Thought for Food reader asked how much I normally spend at the market, and some people were surprised to hear my weekly costs hover around $30. This week I admit I went over $40. But I had very good reasons, I assure you.

For one thing, as another reader pointed out my roasted vegetables were not really enough (alone) to sustain me for lunch the entire week. I noticed this after about two days, and ended up making a supplementary quinoa dish (recipe on the way) to fill the gap. With those two things I was good to go, but the moral of the story is that I want to make a bigger batch of roasted vegetables this week.

Another thing is that I have become very excited about the prospect of roasted root vegetables. I never know what to do with those funny looking round things, but they are affordable and I imagine that their sweet, earthy flavors will really shine in a roasting pan. But I do not yet know which kinds I like best, so I figured I should just try them all.

Consequently, the theme for today was buying things I do not know how to use.

Ever heard of quince? I hear you cannot eat quince raw, but since they were available I bought one to play around with. Quince is a yellow fruit that is related to pears and apples. The smell is fantastic, and I am excited to see what I can do.

I also bought both black and watermelon radishes for the first time. They looked so neat in this Whole Foods Blog post that I knew I had to get them if I ever saw them. It is amazing to me that although I go to the market nearly every week, there are still things I manage to overlook until someone points them out to me.

Another special appearance today was baby Romanesco cauliflower. My bag was already really full, but how could I ignore these beautiful things? (see pic)

I also really wanted to buy one of the winter squash I read about in the San Francisco Chronicle, but I already had too much stuff to carry home. Next time!

Today’s purchases:
  • Romanesco cauliflower
  • Red and white Tokyo turnips
  • Black radish
  • Watermelon radishes
  • Candy-striped beets
  • Parsnips
  • Multi-colored carrots
  • Fingerling potatoes
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Dinosaur kale
  • Pomegranates
  • Fuyu persimmons
  • Warren pears
  • Fuji apple
  • Quince
I am really going out on a limb this week, so any serving suggestions are appreciated!
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