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Farmers Market Update: Boot Camp

by | Jul 10, 2011
Green Zebra Tomatos

Green Zebra Tomatos

This weekend marked the first ever Summer Tomato Farmers Market Boot Camp! A small group of people met up with me at the farmers market for a tour and lessons on how to tackle shopping when overwhelmed with awesomeness.

First Farmers Market Boot Camp

First Farmers Market Boot Camp

I had such a good time with the class that I scheduled another one in two weeks, and I expect to be doing more throughout the summer. If you’re in San Francisco for one of them I’d love to meet you.

Dirty Girl Strawberries

Dirty Girl Strawberries

We went a little nuts today, I’ll admit. I got so excited explaining to the group how good everything is I bought way more stuff than I normally do. I don’t regret a bit of it, and I’ll certainly eat well this week, but if you compare today’s shopping list (below) with previous weeks you’ll see what I mean. It was amazing.

Tokyo Turnips

Tokyo Turnips

SF has officially migrated to summer. The stone fruits (those with pits like cherries, plums, peaches, etc.) are out of control delicious right now. At the sampling dishes we all had the same experience: 1) Gently choose fruit piece with tongs, 2) place fruit in mouth, 3) moment of silence, 4) “Oh my god. I have to buy those.” Today it was the yummy rosa pluots that had us all hypnotized.

Yummy Rosa Pluots

Yummy Rosa Pluots

Fruit is always spectacular, but for my day-to-day cooking I’m most excited about all the fresh greens, vegetables and herbs.

Lemon Cucumbers

Lemon Cucumbers

I’ve been making the best salads with radishes, turnips, carrots, cucumbers and other bits of deliciousness.

Summer Tomatoes

Summer Tomatoes

Today I even got some green zebra heirloom tomatoes (top) to add to the salad mix.

Salad Fixins

Salad Fixins

The shear volume of herbs is also incredible. Today we found not one, not two, but four different varietals of basil. There was sweet Italian basil, Thai basil, purple basil and lemon basil. Who knew?

Lemon Basil

Lemon Basil

I also found chervil at the market today, an herb I’ve read about but never tried (pics weren’t that great). Any serving suggests are welcome.

Purple Basil

Purple Basil

Other summer vegetables are also starting to appear. For the past few weeks I haven’t been able to get enough summer squash. The yellow and green zephyr squash I’ve been getting are so good when cooked with eggs I sometimes mistake it for cheese. I know it sounds weird, but it’s something about the chewy texture and earthy, salty, sweet texture that puts the zucchini I grew up eating to shame. These days you might be lucky enough to find squash with their blossoms still attached.

Zucchini Flowers

Zucchini Flowers

I was excited to see yellow wax and green beans this week, they always look so inviting it’s almost impossible to resist digging your hand into the basket and grabbing some to take home.

Yellow and Green Beans

Yellow and Green Beans

Oh yeah, and I discovered a variety of kale today I’d never heard of before. Anyone familiar with spigariello kale? I didn’t have room for it in my bag this week, but I’ll probably pick some up next time I see it.

Spigariello Kale

Spigariello Kale

Every week I see more varieties of peppers, which makes me ecstatic. Peppers might be my favorite summer treat. These padrons are a little ripe for my taste (they’re best when dark green), but they sure look pretty.

Padrons

Padrons

I also saw corn for the first time this week, and I went ahead and grabbed an ear, just in case. I’m thinking I’m going to throw it in a stir fry with peppers, beans, squash, cilantro and tomatoes. Yum.

First White Corn

First White Corn

I saw okra too, but I did manage to restrain myself from this one. Next week.

Okra

Okra

Did I mention that the flowers are beautiful too? I love this time of year.

Sunflower

Sunflower

Today’s purchases (~$55):

What did you find at the market this week?

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Farmers Market Update: Father’s Day

by | Jun 20, 2010
Assorted Sweet Peppers

Assorted Sweet Peppers

I want to start today by saying there is no one on earth I love more than my dad. Walking around the farmers market this weekend I wished more than anything that he could be with me to see and taste all the amazing produce we have right now here in San Francisco. He’s such a sucker for good food made or grown by people and families who truly care about what they’re doing. I know he’d love it here and I can’t wait until he visits next.

This is a particularly special time of year for fruit lovers. Last week the best cherries were the deep red bing and brooks varieties, but this week the yellow-red rainier cherries finally came into their own, rivaling the sweetness of even the best of the red cherries.

Rainier & Bing Cherries

Rainier & Bing Cherries

White Peaches

White Peaches

We are also in the middle of the fleeting dark berry season. Most of the dark berries are hybrids of blackberries and raspberries. Boysenberries are the most well known hybrid, but today I also found fresh logan and olallie berries. Olallies are my dad’s favorite (I bought 3 boxes in his honor).

Peaches & Nectarines

Peaches & Nectarines

Mature Fava Beans

Mature Fava Beans

But of course, fruit is not all that is special about this time of year. The fava beans are peaking and now’s your chance to get in on this springtime delicacy. I’ll be featuring a spectacular recipe for a Persian fava bean stew next week.

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

Squash Blossoms

Squash Blossoms

Also in the early summer you can find beautiful squash blossoms. These are a wonderful treat that pair particularly well with eggs or on pizza. They are also delicious stuffed with goat cheese and herbs, and fried in tempura batter. Decadent, but certainly worth it.

Spanish Red Garlic

Spanish Red Garlic

Sweet Red Onions

Sweet Red Onions

Garlic and onions, while generally consistent, are at their best this time of year. It is nearly impossible for Photoshop to do justice to the neon fuchsia color of the sweet red onions in this photo, but in person they seemed to almost glow with radiance in the morning sun.

Lavendar and Sweet Peas

Lavendar and Sweet Peas

Violet Sweet Peppers

Violet Sweet Peppers

Looking ahead, peppers are what I am most excited about in the coming months, but they are already starting to impress me with their smell and color. This is, however, a fantastic time to start buying pimientos de padrón (another of Dad’s favorites), as they will continue to get spicier as the season progresses.

Happy Father’s Day Dad!

xoxo

Today’s purchases:

What’s your dad’s favorite fresh produce?

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Farmers Market Update: San Francisco’s Finest

by | Aug 16, 2009
Perfect Squash Blossoms

Perfect Squash Blossoms

Today I am going to let my pictures do most of the speaking for me. In case you haven’t noticed, we are in the height of summer and in my opinion this is about as good as the farmers market gets.

At times like these I wonder why anyone bothers to eat unhealthy.

The squash blossoms from Star Route Farms were absolutely breathtaking–little treasures just waiting to be taken home, stuffed with herbs and goat cheese and deep fried. If I had more time this weekend these would have definitely been on my shopping list.

Mango Plums

Mango Plums

Summer Fire Nectarines

Summer Fire Nectarines

Peaches and nectarines are peaking, firm but still sweet and juicy.

Flavor king pluots are the rage at many of the fruit stands, but do not over look the flavor queens, flavor hearts, flavor grenades or any other part of the “flavor monarchy,” as I call it.

The mango plums at Catalán Family Farms were particularly impressive Saturday morning.

Mission Figs

Mission Figs

Flame and Thompson Grapes

Flame and Thompson Grapes

I’m tempted by strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, grapes and currants at every turn.

This time of year I am always sure that each week I try a new variety of melon. Today I bought an ambrosia melon from The Peach Farm–Ed was nice enough to pick me out the best one. A single sniff of the rind and I new I was bringing home something special.

Broccoli and Cauliflower

Broccoli and Cauliflower

Cranberry Beans

Cranberry Beans

Not surprisingly, the second best smelling things in my market bag were my peppers from Happy Quail Farms. This time I am trying the hot banana pepper!

Yes, you read that right. Jealous?

Oh, and have you tried the summer tomatoes? I can’t decide which I like more: the early girls, the cherry tomatoes or the big fat heirlooms? I usually end up buying all of them.

Tomatoes and Figs

Tomatoes and Figs

Hot Banana Peppers

Hot Banana Peppers

I hope you are all having as much fun right now as I am!

Today’s purchases:

What did you get at the market?

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Farmers Market Update: Veggie Hunting

by | Jun 21, 2009
Pluots

Pluots

I’m starting to remember how much self-control is necessary this time of year. Not only is the market exploding with a zillion varieties of perfect stone fruits (the kind with pits), but the vegetable options are still somewhat limited.

Stone fruits are wonderful, and I know that cherries and apricots will be gone in a few weeks. The problem is they are not cheap ($3.50 – $7/lb) and are not something you can base a meal around. Dessert, obviously, is another story.

Late spring is filled with gorgeous herbs and lettuces, and I am loving it. But I noticed last week that I was getting a little tired of eating salad for every meal. My limit is about 10 salads per week.

Baby Savoy Cabbages

Baby Savoy Cabbages

Summer Tomatoes

Summer Tomatoes

As a result I have been relying primarily on summer squash for my warm meals. Last week I bought some baby eggplant and made a delicious ratatouille. The baby savoy cabbages I got were wonderful pan-fried with spring onion and served on rice and lentils.

Artichokes are awesome right now, as are the fava beans, but both are a bit labor intensive.

I make an effort each week to buy some kale or chard so I have some nice hearty greens to eat.  Today I splurged on some squash blossoms, which are wonderful with eggs or stuffed with cheese and rosemary and fried tempura style.

Fresh Lavender

Fresh Lavender

Squash Blossoms

Squash Blossoms

I’m very much looking forward to the arrival of sweet bell peppers (a few did actually pop up this week at Happy Quail Farms), which I have no trouble eating every single day in the summertime. Mmmm….roasted peppers.

If you’re a flower person, now is the time to buy fresh lavender.

What vegetables are you finding at your farmers market these days? What do you do with them?

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: Late Spring

by | Jun 7, 2009
Summer Squash

Summer Squash

I do not want to call it summer just yet, but we’re certainly getting close. I was finally able to return to my beloved Ferry Plaza Farmers Market this weekend in San Francisco. What a delight!

Last time I visited cherries were just starting to get good and a few apricots and tomatoes were peeking out. Now stone fruits have completely taken over the market, tomatoes are abundant and summer squash have exploded in a way I don’t remember from years past. Truly breathtaking.

Larian & Rainier Cherries

Larian & Rainier Cherries

Organic Plums

Organic Plums

Strawberries are particularly sweet right now, while blueberries are the perfect combination of sweet, tart and crunchy. I saw raspberries for the first time today, but did not get a chance to taste them.

Another remarkable sight was the fresh herbs. Scents of basil, thyme, mint, oregano and lavender infuse the air with the unmistakable fragrance of the coming summer. I couldn’t help but buy all I could carry.

Oregano

Oregano

Spearmint

Spearmint

Some notable early spring items have also disappeared. There are no longer aspargus or *sniff* ramps. Citrus is also on it’s last legs.

Finally, today was the first time I have been to the market since plastic bags were banned. I bought a roll of the biodegradable kind from the CUESA information booth. Some vendors gave them out for free, but most did not. All around the experience is a little bit annoying (I accidentally spilled a bag of cherries on the ground because of the chaos in my shopping bag), but mostly manageable. I do wish there were a better solution, but I’m sure I will get used to the inconvenience eventually.

Salad Mix

Salad Mix

Garlic and Squash Blossoms

Garlic and Squash Blossoms

Today’s Purchases:

What did you find at the market today?

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