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Farmers Market Update: Fleet Week

by | Oct 10, 2010
Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco is a zoo this weekend, but it’s awesome. It’s Fleet Week, which means we have the Blue Angels buzzing over our heads several times a day. And the weather couldn’t be better to hang out on rooftops and watch the action.

Because we are in the middle of changing seasons, the farmers market is a new adventure every week. As summer produce wanes, autumn produce is ramping up. Some of the new items will last all winter, and others are only around a few weeks during the interim.

Pumpkins and Tomatoes

Pumpkins and Tomatoes

White pomegranates are a special treat only around for a couple weeks this time of year. They are sweeter and their pink, translucent seeds are softer than the more typical red pomegranates. Definitely try one if you get the opportunity.

Shin Li Asian Pears

Shin Li Asian Pears

White Pomegranates

White Pomegranates

Asian pears are another temporary item at the market. They’re delicate, watery flesh and subtle flavor make them easy to over look, but it’s fun to bring a few different varietals home and experiment with their unique flavors while you have the chance.

Organic Quince

Organic Quince

Fresh Chestnuts

Fresh Chestnuts

Chestnuts and quince will also be around for a short time and are fun to experiment with. I also saw persimmons for the first time this week.

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

First Persimmons

First Persimmons

At this time of year though, my favorite foods are still the late summer produce. I can’t get enough tomatoes and peppers. I adore them. And they pair so beautifully with fresh herbs and almost anything.

Fresh Herbs

Fresh Herbs

Hot Peppers

Hot Peppers

And let’s not forget about vegetables. It’s last call on winter squash and eggplant. But you can also find fall favorites like brussels sprouts and artichokes.

Artichokes

Artichokes

Baby Brussels Sprouts

Baby Brussels Sprouts

Also notable is that Warren pears are now available at Frog Hollow, and you can pick up some fresh whole wheat tortillas at Massa Organics.

Whole Wheat Tortillas

Whole Wheat Tortillas

Warren Pears

Warren Pears

I’m leaving for Hawaii early this week so I only picked up some white pomegranates and padron peppers.

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Farmers Market Update: End Of Summer

by | Oct 3, 2010
Bronx Grapes

Bronx Grapes

End of summer is always a confusing time in San Francisco, because it is inevitably the nicest weather we’ve had in the city since early May. For the first time all year we pull out our shorts and sandals, while the rest of the country is whining about humidity and getting their pumpkins ready for halloween. It happens every year.

The local produce plays these tricks on us as well. Right now we’re seeing the best of the summer’s fruits. The peaches are perfect, the melons magnificent, the plums spectacular. And of course we’re now getting perfect summer tomatoes.

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn

Perfect Summer Tomatoes

Perfect Summer Tomatoes

Summer vegetables are equally as awesome. The eggplants, peppers, corn and squash are impossible to ignore with their bright colors and lovely aromatics.

Peppers

Peppers

Eggplants and Peppers

Eggplants and Peppers

But the signs of fall are no longer subtle here in San Francisco. Not only are grapes and apples some of the best fruits available this month, but pomegranates and pears are here as well.

First Pomegranates

First Pomegranates

Winter Banana Apples

Winter Banana Apples

We’re also seeing brussels sprouts and winter squash.

Cauliflower and Broccoli

Cauliflower and Broccoli

First Brussels Sprouts

First Brussels Sprouts

Without a doubt this is one of the best times to eat in San Francisco, but it won’t last long. Get it while the gettin’s good.

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: Living Easy

by | Sep 12, 2010
Black and Green Figs

Black and Green Figs

It’s finally summertime in San Francisco. Woohoo! And what a beautiful day to return to my beloved farmers market.

Since I was sick and working on finishing my thesis I hadn’t been to the market in weeks, a lapse I haven’t made in years. It was terrible. But now that those things are behind me I was thrilled to return to the market today and stock up on delicious foods to get my healthstyle back on track. Life is good.

White Nectarines

White Nectarines

Sungold Tomatoes

Sungold Tomatoes

We are currently at the peak of summer: tomatoes are ripe, stone fruit is juicy and greens are plentiful. Now is your chance to get the best peaches, nectarines, figs, melons and pluots. I was so taken by the iridescent pink glow of these pluots I forgot to look at the name of the varietal (or maybe I’m out of practice).

Pluots

Pluots

I was sure to grab enough lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes for salads this week. I also got some kale for dinner, and green beans for more pickling.

Sharlyn Melons

Sharlyn Melons

Green and Yellow Beans

Green and Yellow Beans

I am also seeing the beginning of some of the fall fruits like grapes, pears and apples.

Comice Pears

Comice Pears

Grapes

Grapes

The apples looked amazing today. There are so many heirloom varieties I’ve never heard of, I grabbed a few different kinds just to get myself acquainted. I’m particularly excited about these pink pearl apples I found at the Apple Farm.

Jonathan Apples

Jonathan Apples

Pink Pearl Apples

Pink Pearl Apples

Nature never lets us forget that the next season is right around the corner. I spotted potatoes today and *gasp* winter squash. As delicious as they are, I don’t think I’m quite ready to make that leap yet, I’m going to enjoy the rest of my summer first.

Potatoes and Winter Squash

Potatoes and Winter Squash

There were a couple other interesting finds today in San Francisco. Langier Ranches was offering a fruit called paw paws, which look like a mango but taste more creamy and less acidic. I was also ecstatic to see my favorite bean company Rancho Gordo has started offering heirloom corn tortillas. Yes, I bought some.

Heirloom Corn Tortillas

Heirloom Corn Tortillas

Paw Paws

Paw Paws

Today’s purchases:

What did you find at the market this week?

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Farmers Market Update: Salad Time

by | Jul 18, 2010
Tokyo Turnips

Tokyo Turnips

At this time of year, salad might be my favorite food. I know, salad sounds boring. It sounds cold, tasteless and painfully healthy. The kind of healthy that no one really wants to be.

But in early summer health is the last thing on my mind when I choose to make salad. Truth is I just can’t wait to eat all the beautiful greens and fixings I find each week at the farmers market. Food like this is a treat, and probably not at all what you think of when you think of salad.

Any good salad starts with greens. The little gem lettuces, arugula, spinach, mizuna and even more untraditional greens like purslane.

Purslane

Purslane

Salad Mix

Salad Mix

Purslane is a succulent green that is supposedly high in omega-3 fatty acids. Personally I eat it for its lemony flavor and unique texture. It’s a great addition to any salad mix.

After greens I like to layer flavors and textures into my salads. Cucumbers from the farmers market are completely different from the flavorless, waxy beasts I remember from childhood salads.

Armenian Cucumbers

Armenian Cucumbers

I love the long, curly Armenian cucumbers, but you can also find Mediterranean cucumbers, lemon cucumbers and several other varieties I’ve never tried. Most don’t require peeling. If you don’t have cucumbers, raw sweet summer squash are delicious in salads too.

Zephyr Squash

Zephyr Squash

Lemon Cucumbers

Lemon Cucumbers

Turnips, radishes and carrots are particularly good salad additions in early summer, contributing a distinctive crunch and deeper flavor than the delicate lettuces and cucumber. If you choose good quality turnips and radishes, their greens can be added to your salad mix as well.

Rainbow Carrots

Rainbow Carrots

French Breakfast Radishes

French Breakfast Radishes

Summer tomatoes add both sweetness and brightness to salads, because of their relatively high sugar and acid content. For salads I prefer the deeply flavored heirloom varieties such as cherokee purple and brandywine varieties. Roasted peppers can serve a similar function.

Sweet Peppers

Sweet Peppers

Summer Tomatoes

Summer Tomatoes

To add substance I turn to foods that are higher in fat and protein, like avocados, nuts, eggs, grain or meats. Today I picked up some avocados and eggs from the farmers market. My favorite salad green of late is the chewy and rustic farro grain. If you haven’t tried it yet I highly recommend it.

I like to finish my salad with summer fruits and herbs. Any stone fruit is fantastic and pairs nicely with balsamic vinaigrettes. Figs are also delicious if you can find them.

Pluots

Pluots

Other things I loved this week include the Ruby grand nectarines from Frog Hollow and organic cauliflower.

Organic Cauliflower

Organic Cauliflower

Frog Hollow Ruby Grand Nectarines

Frog Hollow Ruby Grand Nectarines

Today’s purchases:

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Summertime Farmers Market Checklist

by | Jul 12, 2010
Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

A harsh reality hit me this past Saturday. Believe it or not, I was woefully unprepared to bring everything I wanted home from the farmers market.

It wasn’t obvious to me at first. After all I had remembered to stop at the ATM for cash, brought with me my large market bag, and even had my trusty roll of plastic bio-bags to collect all the delicious summer greens (plastic is so 2008).

This was not a rookie farmers market mistake I made, this was more of a seasonal oversight. Dedicated farmers market shoppers (particularly fruit lovers) have a special concern in the summer that does not exist in the winter: soft produce.

Nothing is sadder than arriving home from the farmers market and finding your bags full of mashed plums and tomato sauce. If you purchase a decent amount of produce you are almost certain to have some fruit casualties if you rely on only one large market bag, even if you’re careful to place them at the top. The tender skins of summer fruit are simply too delicate to withstand any pressure, whether it’s from weight, neighboring produce or the sides of your market bag.

Losing produce is even more heartbreaking when you realize that those stone fruits and heirloom tomatoes could have easily cost upwards of $3.50 per pound.

Luckily there are ways to avoid this tragedy. I recommend a two tiered approach. First, bring a few stackable tupper containers. You want them to be big enough that they allow two or three fruits to fit comfortably inside without pressure from the lid, and without the fruits pressing too firmly against each other.

On the other hand, you don’t want the fruits rolling around inside the tupper. You can avoid this if you place the fruits inside the tupper while they are still inside their paper or plastic bag. Be particularly careful if any of the fruit or tomatoes you purchase have protruding stems, since these can puncture and ruin neighboring fruits.

It is also useful to bring a second, smaller market bag so you can keep your delicate produce completely separate from your heavier purchases. This will save you from worrying about what goes where in your bag and you can focus all your energy on finding the best produce.

Glance through this checklist next time you head out to your local summer market to be sure you have everything you need.

Summertime Farmers Market Checklist

1. Cash

Don’t count on vendors taking credit cards or there being an ATM nearby.

2. 2 Large farmers market bags

One bag to carry the heavy stuff, and another (it can be smaller) for your delicate fruits and tupper.

3. 2-3 Medium-sized tupper containers

Look for wider, flatter containers that can keep peaches and plums in a single layer, stems facing down.

4. Small biodegradable or green bags for produce

These are to carry loose greens and other produce.

5. Sunglasses

It’s summer, and bright out!

6. Camera

Farmers market produce is inspiring and the market changes every week. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to capture the beauty.

How do you get your soft produce home safe from the farmers market?

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Farmers Market Update: Ode To Summer

by | Jul 11, 2010
White Nectarines

White Nectarines

Dear Readers,

I know that many of you enjoy the farmers market and visit it regularly, and if this describes you I’m sure you already know what I’m about to write.

For those of you who like the farmers market but find yourself cooking up excuses each week not to go, it is time to talk yourself out of that habit. At least this once. If you’re ever going to make visiting your farmers market a priority, now is the time. This is the season when a taste of a simple plum can change your life (I got mine from Paradez Farms).

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

Pluot Slices

Pluot Slices

There are only a few weeks of the year when berries and stone fruits haunt the market simultaneously, when you can get sweet cherries and perfect peaches. Even the tomatoes now would never be mistaken for anything other than a fruit. At this time of year it is possible to win friends with salad (I’ve done it many times already).

Summer Squash

Summer Squash

Green Chard

Green Chard

Today I saw children begging their parents to buy foods that most of us grew up hating (beets!). And I even bought a bag of broccoli simply because it was so cute. That’s right, even vegetables are getting their moment in the sun.

Adorable Broccoli

Adorable Broccoli

Summer Beets

Summer Beets

(the garlic and onions are photogenic??)

Summer Onions

Summer Onions

Purple Garlic

Purple Garlic

An added bonus is the late summer produce is just beginning to arrive as well. Today I bought my first corn, and saw eggplants available at a few different stands.

Bodacious Yellow Corn

Bodacious Yellow Corn

Mission and adriatic figs are also available, and surprisingly sweet for this early in the season. I even spied a few melons hanging out today, though I was too busy cradling peaches and nectarines to get one home safely.

Mission Figs

Mission Figs

First Eggplants

First Eggplants

And for today’s Moment of Zen, I present: kohlrabi.

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

Enjoy the summer! And if you discover or learn to love anything new this year, please come tell us about it.

xoxox
Darya

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: Best Of Spring

by | May 2, 2010

Spring Broccoli

Spring Broccoli

Everything I’ve ever wanted out of springtime I found at the farmers market this weekend. The sun was bright and warm and the produce was lush and colorful. I was in heaven.

Finally the strawberries are sweet and abundant. Pea shoots, shelling peas and sugar snap peas are everywhere. And…(wait for it)…the first pimentos de padrón have arrived!

Pimentos de Padron

Pimentos de Padron

Organic Strawberries

Organic Strawberries

Padróns are small Spanish peppers that are usually cooked briefly in hot olive oil and sprinkled with course sea salt. They aren’t spicy, except when they are. About 1 out of every 10 peppers is blistering hot, so be sure to have a crusty baguette nearby to soothe your mouth if you ever try them. The bread is also useful for sopping up the delicious oil that becomes flavored with the cooked pepper juices. I adore padróns.

The broccoli and cauliflower were particularly nice looking this week. I ended up getting two different kinds of broccoli, but after seeing this picture I regret not bringing home some cauliflower as well.

Gorgeous Cauliflower

Gorgeous Cauliflower

One thing I did get for the first time this week was some baby fava beans. I like the baby ones because they don’t require shelling, the pods are tender enough that you can eat them whole. I like to roast them with garlic, capers, anchovies, kalamata olives and tomatoes. Yum. Just look how tender and fuzzy these little guys are.

Baby Fava Beans

Baby Fava Beans

I’m also excited that we’re starting to see tomatoes and avocados at the market together. Mexican food FTW! The tomatoes are even starting to look pretty good.

Hass Avocado

Hass Avocado

Crazy Tomatoes

Crazy Tomatoes

I made the mistake last week of buying an organic avocado (it had slipped into the bin with conventional avocados and I hadn’t noticed) at my local market only to discover that it somehow tasted even better than regular avocados. I didn’t even think that was possible. Organic avocados are way more expensive, but I’m now forever ruined.

You also shouldn’t miss the fennel, lettuces, leeks, collards, chard and late season citrus.

Spring Citrus

Spring Citrus

Baby Fennel

Baby Fennel

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: Leek Appreciation

by | Apr 18, 2010

Loose Leeks

One of my favorite things about buying and cooking vegetables is that sometimes even old staples can surprise you.

I don’t know how long I’ve been cooking with leeks, but it has definitely been awhile. Last week though I had a leek epiphany: they are amazing!

Usually I use leeks at the start of a vegetable sauté. Nothing was especially different on the day of my epiphany, except I decided to cut the leek slices a little thicker than usual and let them brown a bit more before tossing in the other vegetables.

Spring Asparagus

Spring Asparagus

Organic Purple Kale

Organic Purple Kale

I doubt the way I cut the leeks changed the flavor in any measurable way, but what it did was make them stick to the inside of the tongs I was using in chunks that were big enough for me to grab off and eat. Wow was I blown away.

So this week I was determined to stock up on leeks and experiment more with them. I was happy to see Dirty Girl Produce was selling leeks already cleaned, which I’m hoping will make storing and using them even easier.

Other than leeks, peas seem to be the star of the market right now. Sugar snap peas, English shelling peas and pea tendrils are everywhere and add a particular spring feeling to the market. I had a different agenda this week, but peas will soon be in my future.

Early Fava Beans

Early Fava Beans

Snap Peas

Snap Peas

Fava beans are also upon us and looking particularly beautiful. These are a labor-intensive vegetable, but well worth the effort as they are such a seasonal treat. I’m also loving artichokes these days, and will be sharing my favorite recipe later this week.

Spring salads should start making their way onto your menus soon. Seasonal lettuces like Miner’s lettuce, spinach and arugula are available, as are carrots, radishes and cucumbers.

Carrots and Radishes

Carrots and Radishes

Miner's Lettuce Bucket

Miner's Lettuce Bucket

Tomatoes are around too, though they still look much prettier than they taste. But I’m hopeful that they will be tasty soon, since I spotted my first basil this week.

First Basil

First Basil

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Tiny broccolini are a vegetable I have been really enjoying the past few weeks, but it has been difficult to get a good picture of them until today. I like these because they are easier to work with than large broccoli crowns (just rinse and cook, no cutting) and are sweeter and more delicate. Definitely pick some up if you see them.

Strawberries

Strawberries

Broccolini

Broccolini

In fruit, strawberries are still the most exciting, though there is still a lot of delicious citrus available. But I’m really excited for the cherries and apricots I expect in the next few weeks.

And if you’re into flowers, you can’t go wrong this time of year at the farmers market.

Lupin Flowers

Lupin Flowers

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: April Showers

by | Apr 11, 2010
Asparagus and Radishes

Asparagus and Radishes

I made a San Francisco rookie mistake today at the farmers market.

Yesterday was so incredibly beautiful I didn’t think it was possible we could have rain today. I was wrong and should have known better.

Completely unprepared, I found myself at the farmers market in the rain with no umbrella, a light hoodless jacket and tiny little non-waterproof shoes. Consequently, I didn’t feel much like lingering and did most of my purchases at just a few farms.

But despite my quickness to depart, I did notice the arrival of fava beans this week. Exciting!

First Fava Beans

First Fava Beans

Another rookie mistake I made was not showing up early enough to get the good strawberries. Anyone who visits the market regularly knows that the most special items tend to be gone by 9am. This morning I was told my strawberries were gone by 8:30. When the weather gets warmer there will be strawberries by the truck load, but until then the early bird catches the worm.

But I didn’t miss out completely. The artichokes I bought last week were so mind blowing that I had to get them again. I also noticed that collard greens are looking particularly tasty.

Collard Greens

Collard Greens

Small Artichokes

Small Artichokes

And though radishes have been around for a few weeks, they are just now starting to look really beautiful.

Carrots have also been impressing me the past few weeks. Every time I eat one I think with pity about all the kids growing up thinking that those flavorless bagged “baby carrots” are what vegetables really taste like. The real thing is as sweet as candy.

Adorable Carrots

Adorable Carrots

This week I finally broke down and bought an heirloom tomato. I’ve been putting this moment off knowing they wouldn’t be quite good yet. But these are starting to look pretty awesome, so I took the plunge. It was good, but not great.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

Fresh eggs are not to be missed this time of year. Even if you cannot afford to eat them regularly, I recommend heading to the farmers market and picking some up at least once. You’ll be amazed. Use them to make a special brunch. (Pro tip: Try them with a sprinkle of smoked paprika)

Meyer Lemons

Meyer Lemons

Eatwell Eggs

Eatwell Eggs

You should also stock up on Meyer lemons while you have the chance.

And though these are things I didn’t actually buy, they are great examples of why I love my farmers market so much. Purple potatoes and low sugar jam FTW!

Very Low Sugar Jam

Very Low Sugar Jam

Purple Potatoes

Purple Potatoes

Today’s Purchases:

Is it spring for you yet?

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Farmers Market Update: Chard Obsessed

by | Apr 4, 2010
Chard

Chard

I had no idea I loved chard as much as I apparently do. When I got home from the farmers market and browsed through my photos, about half of them were pictures of chard.

Organic Chard

Organic Chard

Ruby Chard

Ruby Chard

Is that weird?

I think the attraction was the rainbow of colors that to me is so representative of springtime. And nothing is more colorful than rainbow chard.

Ok, the beets were pretty beautiful too.

Colorful Beets

Colorful Beets

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

I love being inspired by vegetables.

The biggest news from the market today was the appearance of heirloom tomatoes. Though I wasn’t quite ready to commit to buying them, I’m very excited about the coming weeks as their flavor develops.

Organic Strawberries

Organic Strawberries

First Heirloom Tomatoes

First Heirloom Tomatoes

I did take the plunge and purchase some strawberries this week, however. I’m a huge fan of the berries at Dirty Girl Produce, and they still had a few baskets left when I got there. But these berries at Swanson Berry Farm looked pretty tasty as well.

Avocados, artichokes and celery also caught my attention this week. I stocked up on baby artichokes for good measure.

Organic Celery

Organic Celery

Organic Artichokes

Organic Artichokes

It is also a great time to get salad greens. A few vendors are carrying miner’s lettuce with these cool Alice-In-Wonderland-looking leaves. And I’m always drawn to the adorable savoy cabbages.

Baby Savoy Cabbage

Baby Savoy Cabbage

Miner's Lettuce

Miner's Lettuce

Be sure you get your fill of citrus in the coming weeks, since it will be disappearing before you know it. And don’t forget the green garlic and onions.

Baby Onions

Baby Onions

Today’s purchases:

Were you inspired by vegetables this week?

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