April 13, 2009 0 Comments

My First Official Farmers Market Report!!
As a chef and a true food lover I get really giddy as spring sprouts beautiful nourishment from the earth. All across the state seeds have been sewn and the early birth of spring produce is being harvested. Strawberries are abound in many varieties: eat-from-the-basket fresh to perfect for a strawberry tart. Lettuces are peaking and blushing, varieties so special they scream star salad. Shallot shoots are tender sweet, savory and sexy, spring onions with bulbs bursting the size of baseballs and to round out this season’s onion fashion, garlic green tops are the opposite of “slow-aged” black garlic, rather bright, fresh lively and proof that spring IS in the air…
Farmers Market headstands this week:
“Jerry’s Berries” strawberries!! If I had a dollar for each thought I have had about these strawberries since sinking my teeth into one after another last Wednesday, I could buy 100 flats of them!  If you have yet to give Jerry’s galante variety a try, you really should.  They are bring-you-to-your-knees GOOD!
Red Frill Mustard Greens had chefs’ heads spinning last week!  Gorgeous and peppery:  it is the designer mustard green for chefs!
I’m in love with the Red Arrow Baby Broccoli and the Persian Watercress!!  All of the Farmers Market lettuces are beautiful and tasty, especially the Freckles Lettuce (It has freckles!! C’mon!)
English Peas are sweeter than candy and The Lyon Artichokes with Stem are bigger than my head and probably yours too!  The baby Artichokes are still rocking and as you know, super versatile!!  Principi’s Pizza’s Andrew is throwing down a Baby Artichoke, Green Garlic and Sage pizza at the Little Italy Mercado on Saturdays.  I indulged in several pieces and I’m hooked.  I am 99% sure he made a green sauce with the artichoke hearts.  It was amazing.  If you are at the Little Italy Farmers Market, check his wood-burning pizza oven booth out.  It is awesome!!!
I am heading to the market on Wednesday to see what’s new, what is on the cusp of landing in our hands and if there are some more adventurous produce out there that can continue to elvate our guests’ palettes and push our creative juices.
I welcome all special requests and questions that each of you may have regarding the Farmers Market and I hope to keep bringing you the special produce that continues to bring value to your menus.  “In these times” value is priceless.  A little McGrath Farm Red Frill Mustard here with a handful of Polito Family Farm Tom’s Terrific slices there can translate into guests feeling like they are in on something great!
For those of you who had the chance to order the shallot shoots last week, congratulations!! due to the holiday, no shallot shoots were harvested this week so if you haven’t tried them yet, next week is a good week to do so.
Farmers Market is going to start peaking soon with so much yummy produce on the horizon.  Get ready because if this spring is any indicator of summer’s fertile offerings, your menus could revolve around the freshest produce in town!!
On a personal note, thank you to everyone who participates in the Farmers Market with Specialty.  It is the Farmers Market where we find all this special produce that was just harvested and plucked from the earth and trees.  It just doesn’t get any fresher than that, unless you are plucking it form your own garden.  The farmers who bring us these goodies that enhance our menus and raise the bar are the true rockstars of our industry.  Thanks to you, they get to keep on keepin’ on!
Happy Post-Easter Monday and Happy Cooking!
Melissa Mayer


Tom’s Terrific Tangerinesfrom Polito Family Farm
Tom's Terrific Tangerines
Red Frill Mustard Greens sexy and frilly on the outside, spicy and no-frills on the inside!  My pick of the week!
Red Frill Mustard Greens from McGrath Family Farm
Jerry’s Berries Strawberries (Galante variety) from Rutiz Farm – sweeter than candy!!
Jerry's Berries Strawberries from Rutiz Farm
Red Spring Onions from Jaime Farm – big juicy bulbs!

Fava Beans from Coastal & McGrath Farms
Fava Beans from Coastal Organics

Beylik Family Farms – Fillmore, CA

Persian Cucumberspetite and crucnhy! No seeds=sweet!
Japanese Tomatoes – a deep red tomato that’s flesh is equivalent to a hearty beefsteak.
Yellow Tomatoesthese are really special and they are sweet and tangy!

Coastal Organics – Oxnard, CA

Black Kale– also known as tuscan kale, black cabbage, or cavalo nero!
Gold bunch Turnips – beautiful colors all the way through!
Fava Beans – New! Young, sweet and non-starchy.

Coleman Family Farm – Carpinteria, CA

Broccoli Spigarello – great winter braising green!
Red Butter (Piret) Lettuceyou won’t find this anywhere else!
Freckles Lettuce Freckles!
Lollo Rossa Lettuce great for mixed salads, beautiful deep purple-red.
Treviso – so young, you’ll barely recognize it. Deep green with a deep blush.
Radicchio – note: small heads! Perfect for plate garnishes.
Sugar Snap Peas

Garcia Organic Farm – Fallbrook, CA

Cara Cara Oranges– a mix between a grapefruit and a navel orange gives it its signature salmon colored flesh!
Meiwa Kumquats – a Japanese variety that has a sweeter pulp than conventional kind.

Harry’s Berries – Oxnard, CA

Note:Tomatoes gapping for 3 months! Oh, the horror!

Jaime Farm – Ontario, CA

Mixed Baby Bunch Carrots – beautiful baby yellow, orange, red, and purple haze carrots with tops
Rainbow Chard striking colors, hearty leaves.
White Spring Onion – large sized and absolutely beautiful! Attached to hearty, fresh green tops
Red Spring Onion – big juicy bulbs!

Life’s A Choke – Lompoc, CA

Baby Anzio Artichokes – a cross between green and purple artichokes, and very meaty!
Baby Purple (Fiesole) Artichokes– not as meaty, but beautiful color and nutty flavor
Lyon Artichoke with stem– large and in charge! This is a very jumbo, round, meaty variety from Southern France that has very little bitterness, if any, compared to other varieties

McGrath Family Farm – Camarillo, CA

Wild Arugula 3 Pound bag
Red Frill Mustard sexy and frilly on the outside, spicy and no-frills on the inside!  My pick of the week!
Baby Bunch Candy Beets, Red Beets, Gold Beets, and White Beets
Baby Watermelon Radish
Pea Tendrils – sexy, sweet and great for a quick saute!
Red Okami Spinach – a uniquiely shaped leaf with a deep red stem and veins – great for sauteing!
Baby White Japanese Turnips
Firecracker Lettuce – deep red and a bit frilly!
Fava Beans – beautiful, plump perfect beans.

Mike and Son Egg Ranch – Ontario, CA

Brown Eggs (15 doz case only)

Polito Family Farm – Valley Center, CA

Oro Blanco Grapefuit – golden-flesh, sweet and juicy – still going strong!
Tom’s Terrific Tangerines –  juicy squared, easy to peel, and almost seedless – yum!

Rutiz Farm – Arroyo Grande, CA

Sugar Snap Peas
English Peas
Persian Watercress– a different variety, this one has a wonderfully spicy-sweet kick
Jerry’s Berries Strawberries– pre-order only worth every penny!! A must try strawberry!
Savoy Spinach – cut in small clusters of 3-4 leaves – beautiful

Weiser Family Farm – Bakersfield, CA

Red Thumb Potatoes – red skinned on the outside, and pretty in pink on the inside
Russian Banana Fingerlings – baker size, but oh so creamy..
French Heirloom Fingerlings – red-skinned and white-fleshed, has a very silky texture (baker size)
Mix Baby Carrots – all heirloom varieties!
Baby Purple Broccoli – aka Red Arrow Broccoli, which is the specific variety. It’s not purple all the way through, but the green stem and leaves contrast it very nicely. It has a mild flavor and the farmer recommends slicing thinly and serving raw, or do a very quick saute if desired to keep the color!!
Baby Broccoli – it’s green counterpart
White Beets – the big ol’ ones, great for roasting and pairing with other beets for a milder, sweeter flavor

Yasutomi Farm – Pico Rivera, CA

Baby Bok Choy – amazingly tender, great flavor, good for braise and hey, even the grill…

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