FARMERS MARKET REPORT: WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 27, 2009
The beginning of fall has arrived and the summer is officially behind us. Pumpkins are shaping up and stone fruits are shipping out. Heirloom apples are filling baskets at the market, as are pears and soon, persimmons and winter squashes. The chile peppers are at their peak with several varieties tempting our palates eyes and mouths. Here are the chile newcomers to the market (each from heirlooms seeds) representing regions and quintessential to traditional and modern cuisines from around the world…
Fushimi Pepper – Windrose Farms: sweet chili pepper from Japan widely used in Asian cooking at its green stage, especially in tempura. Full flavored, measures 6″ long, with thin deep green walls that will eventually turn glossy red.
Negro Pasilla Chile Peppers – Windrose Farms: an elongated, tubular chile, measuring 6 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Dark purple when ripe, the Pasilla’s crinkly body curves into an arc. This thin fleshed chile has a berry flavor with herbaceous tones. Great dried and ground up for powder seeds and all too!!
Sigaretta Dolce Pepper – Windrose Farms: known as an Italian fryer, the Sigeretta Dolce is a slim, crinkly and long “cigar” type pepper that is sweet and savory vs. hot. It has a lime green colored skin that turns red when it fully ripens.
Shishito Pepper – Coleman Family Farms: an old Japanese variety, the shishito is a wrinkly thin skinned savory and mild flavored peppers that is about three inches long. This peppers should be harvested when its skin color is bright lime green. It is 100% edible, including the seeds.
Padron Chile Pepper – Coleman Family Farms: Petit Padron chile peppers are slightly crinkled and grooved, have a semi-matte finished deep green skin and generally measures about two inches long. When small and immature, this chile pepper offers a crisp and mildly sweet pepper flavor. The larger the Padron chile pepper, the spicier the flavor, which incidentally makes it much less enjoyable to eat. Its formal name is “Pimiento de Padrón”.
Beck Grove, Fallbrook is home to a 100% certified biodynamic and organic orchard/farm. Biodynamic farming stimulates and supports soil fertility through the use of farm-produced manures and composts. Beck Grove has a singular cow that meets all of their manure needs. I was there and the scent was in the air. Their orchard was converted from an abandoned avocado farm to the 33 acre orchard where over 15 different fruit crops, most of which are unique to the produce landscape, yet perfect for a chef’s palate. There grove spirals east to west and north to south with rows upon rows of fuyu persimmons, pomegranetes, kumquats, kaffir limes, blood oranges, satsuma tangerines, meyer lemons, bearrs limes, passion fruit and minneolas. All of their fruits are on the trees and getting ready for their season. Kaffir limes are ready and persimmons are just around the corner. The other citruses will be ripening come winter. Having seen the furits with my own eyes, I can tell you it is going to be a prolific harvest at Beck Grove this year! As with many growers, due to water restrictions the orchard faces serious consequential decisions of having to let some of the land go wild as they will not be afforded the water resources to feed all of their crops.
Available now: kaffir limes – indulgent, fragrant, sexy, sweet, zesty are just a few words that come to mind when thinking about this exotic citrus that is finally finding its way to a more “global” stage.
Fallbrook Mushroom Farm
A field trip to Fallbrook Mushroom Farm on Monday was an educated journey into a virtual Chinese forest where mushrooms were dominating the landscape. Long and narrow, screened barns are home to thousands upon thousands of oyster “spawns” and shitake logs. The mushrooms are cultivated on agro-waste (which is essentially recycled agricultural food sources) in spawns filled with rice, grains, cotton, straw, wheat, millet and maize that serve as the mushrooms’ food and protein source. The spawned bags (see picture above) are stored in low-lit raised shelving as they begin colonizing. They are watered from a sprinkling system above daily to retain the appropriate levels of moisture for the mushrooms to grow prolifically. Harvests occur approximately every 60 days and are picked before the mushrooms begin to spore. The most effective way to harvest the mushrooms is to remove the entire colony from the spawn’s stem so that a new crop can grow all at once. One spawn bag can cultivate about 3-5 harvests.
What is unique about Fallbrook Mushroom Farms besides the information that I shared with you? Well, considering that 85% of the world’s oyster mushroom production comes from China and the fact that the oyster mushroom is the third largest cultivated mushroom, having an oyster mushroom farm in our own back yard is simply a privilege. Fallbrook Mushroom Farm is a pristinely run organic family farm. They harvest their mushrooms the same day we have them delivered and they are harvesting the mushrooms smaller so that they are more tender and the mushrooms themselves are higher yielding. The mushroom caps range in sizes from button to half-dollar versus SAND dollar, making them the only oyster mushrooms known to be picked at that size. You can do so much more with these mushrooms than adding them to “Hot Pot”. They are the newest addition to the farmers market program and they will be available by the pound or by the five pound flat.
The loose list of what to expect this fall at the Santa Monica Farmers Market and from our Southern California farmers: while some of these crops may be available year-round they are at their finest and in their peak in the fall months of the year:
Apples, Arugula, Reed Avocados, Beans – Snap, Pole, Bush, Shelled and Dried, Bay Leaves, Beets, Sprouting Broccoli, Broccoli Rabe, Brussel Sprouts, Celery Root, Citrus – Buddha’s Hand, Kaffir limes and Sweet Limes, Corn, Crosnes, New Harvest Dates, New Harvest Dried Fruits, Eggplants, Autumn Royale, Kiwi Fruit, Mangoes, Mushrooms – Chanterelles, Criminis, Oysters, Porcinis, Mustard Greens, New Harvest Nuts, Okra, Olives, Pears, Snap Peas, Peppers, Persimmons, Pomegranates, Quinces, Treviso, Rapini, Rutabagas, Bloomsdale Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatillos, Late Harvest Tromboncini Squash, Winter Squashes
Allow this to be your navigational guide to menu-making and spontaneous cravings, getting what’s in season locally and just one chapter of living, breathing sustainability.
Be one of the first chefs to score the first harvest of Kaffir Limes from Beck Grove Biodynamic Organic Farm: thick-skinned, beyond fragrant, plum and bumpy Asian lime that is like the buddha’s hand of the lime family, a little lime packs a heavy punch*
COLEMAN FAMILY FARMS:
DEER’S TONGUE LETTUCE:
ALSO: PASSION FRUIT!!
THE ELUSIVE SHUNKYO RADISHES:
AND PADRON PEPPERS!
GLORIA TAMAI FARMS:
YELLOW WAX BEANS, BLUE LAKE BEANS, WILD ARUGULA (IN BUNCHES) AND LIMITED AMOUNTS OF BEETS – CANDIED, PINK AND GOLD.
FAIRVIEW GARDENS HAS SHELLED FLAGEOLETS -THEY SHELL THEM ON TUESDAYS AND BRING THEM TO THE MARKET ON WEDNESDAYS – FRESH!! AND COLLARD GREENS.
WINDROSE HAS APPLES!!! AND JUNIOR LETTUCES CALLED “BABIES IN A BOX” THEY ARE GORGEOUS!!! LET’S JUST SAY SOME FAMOUS RESTAURANTS IN THE L.A. AREA GET THEIRS WEEKLY…
THE BABY CARROT MIX FROM WEISER IS BACK WITH LIMITED COLORS***
NO MORE PINK LEMONS, HARRY’S STRAWBERRIES OR FITZGERALD STONE FRUITS (INCLUDING PEACHES!!). LIMITED QUANTITIES OF ARUGULA FROM WINDROSE, GET YOUR FRENCH BEANS FROM MCGRATH FARMS!!! YASUTOMI MINERS LETTUCE IS GAPPING BUT THEIR BUTTER LETTUCE IS AMAZING! SHELLING BEANS ARE EXTREMELY POPULAR AND WILL BE AROUND FOR AT LEAST THIS MONTH. TORPEDO ONIONS ARE STILL AVAILABLE BUT CURED DOWN. GARCIA ORGANIC FARMS HAS SOME INCREDIBLY SWEET BROWN TURKEY FIGS AND GOLDEN FIGS (CANDY!). THEIR MEYER LEMON SEASON IS DONE>
More Gapping News: All Coastal Organics produce, Persian Shelling Beans, La Ratte Potatoes, Coastal Organics Tomatoes, Bloomsdale Spinach from Weiser Family Farms and several radish varieties from Jaime Farms – each week check back as they farmers check their progress daily. One day they are in the ground an dthe next day..they could be out!
Other Exiting: Pudwill’s Black Currants, Harry’s Berries, Jerry’s Berries, Firecracker Lettuce, Cara Cara Oranges, Sugar Snap Peas, Encore Tangerines, French Leeks, Green Garlic, Meiwa Kumquats, Paige Tangerines, Tom’s Terrific Tangerines and Gold Nuggets from Garcia Organics, Black Kale, Baby Turnips (Coastal Organics) and Watermelon Radishes from Mcgrath Farms.
Available this week: Persian Beans, Mauve Runners, White Caps, Cranberry and Flageolets.
Persian Beans – from McGrath Farms
Purple-hulled Pink Eyes
Rich, sweet earthy and complex, unique and delicious, a stand-out bean with a short two-month season.
Flageolet Beans– McGrath Family Farms – Creamy and firm in texture, these beans, unlike other shelling beans do not typically require soaking.
Mauve Runner –
Penryn Orchard is a 100% sustainable boutique-sized 4 acre orchard that is growing amazing tree fruits: from rare heirloom Asian pears to eight different varieties of persimmons and the elusive and sensitive celestial figs, there is a plethora of unique and delicious fruit to “pick” from and their season(s) have just begun!!!
On their roster this week:
Asian Pears, Black Mission Figs, Fig Leaves and soon: Chocolate Persimmons!!!
Marvel Striped Tomatoes – from Tutti Frutti
Padron Chile Peppers – from Happy Quail Farms: Petit Padron chile peppers are slightly crinkled and grooved, have a semi-matte finished deep green skin and generally measures about two inches long. When small and immature, this chile pepper offers a crisp and mildly sweet pepper flavor.
Bogatyr Garlic – from Sage Mountain Farms: Bogatyr garlic is a hardnecked purple-striped single clove variety that is one of the spiciest known varieties of garlic when eaten raw. It is very rare and not found in general market places.
20th Century Asian Pears – from Penryn Orchard
Brown Turkey Figs – from Garcia Organics
Gravenstein Apples – from Windrose Farms (famous for their apple orchard)
Kidds Red Apples – also Windrose Farms
Butter Lettuce (hydroponic!) – Yasutomi Farms has produced a beautiful variety that any butter lettuce or baby lettuce lover will be quick to gravitate toward. Packaged in two “heads” to a bunch.
PUDWILL FARMS: BERRIES!!!!!
More unique to American soil are the black and red currants. Not so unique to Pudwill Farms. They are in season and out of sight!! The black are sweet and tart while the red are a little more sweet than tart – great for cutting through richer meats or as a refresher between courses.
Golden Raspberries – If I were allowed to use the acronym, OMG, I would use it right here.
Blueberries – These are magically superb, plump with full berry flavor.
Raspberries – Available this week: candy for the eyes and mouth!
Blackberries – scrumptiously delicious!!!
RANCHO DEL SOL: CERTIFIED ORGANIC AND LOCAL! JAMUL, CA
A visit to Rancho Del Sol was almost more dizzying than a tour of the market. 40 acres, two golf carts, peacocks, lamas, bunnies, horses and more citrus trees than you could shake a stick at reads like a novel and yet their is nothing novel or short of amazing going on at Rancho Del Sol. I will share more about that experience, so stay tuned…
Bill and Linda Zaiser are exercising their agricultural flair on a 36-acre ranch in Jamul, where citrus became their signature in the 1980’s. Their cash crop was the not-so-fashionable-yet blood oranges that almost 30 years later are now a Southern California ubiquety. Today they grow specialty citruses, melons, cucumbers, squashes and more. Their summer harvest includes extremly rare andunique melons and cucumbers and oodles of squash varieties that serve as bumper crops for their prolific fall harvest of exotic citrus varieties including sorrento lemons,kishu, yuzu, limequats, buddah’s hand and more!!
Tigger Melon – limited quantities – a petite and sweet melon with deep burnt orange variegated skin and a creamy white flesh that tastes like a honeydew-cantaloupe blend. I’m loving it!
Look for more of their produce below!!!!!!
Cranberry – THESE ARE ALREADY SHELLED $$$
Red Bok Choy from Coleman Farms! – Also known as Red Violet Tatsoi Hybrid, this is a unique bok choy vartiety The shiny leaves range in color from red-violet to dark purple, and they hold their color well even in the summer heat, although this variety also tolerates colder temperatures. Lightly textured, the spoon-shaped leaves have a mild mustard flavor.
Thai Basil – from Coleman Farms; “Siam Queen” has a delicious, spicy sweet flavor with a licorice basil aroma. It is
Duck Eggs – from Ramona Duck Farms!!
Walnuts – grown in the Santa Rita Hills at Rancho La Viña; these are addictive!!!
Black garlic is cultivated and harvested right here in California and it is waiting to allure you…
Fiesole (Baby Purple) Artichokes from Life’s A Choke
Semi-Savoy Spinach from Rutiz Farms
White Corn from Gloria Tamai Farms: tender pale white kernels so sweet you’ll forget another color of corn exists…
Baby Calabrese Broccoli – Rutiz Farms
Cherokee Heirloom Tomatoes- from Tutti Frutti Farms
Pirella Lettuce from Coleman Farms
Persian Watercress – Rutiz Farms, a hot peppery leaf that has been an equally hot seller at the market. Very unique shape and taste!
Japanese Tomatoes – I am still in love with this hefty. Great pre-heirloom season variety nicknamed the “Tough Boy” for its heat-resilient texture and succulence!
Beylik Family Farms – Fillmore, CA
Lipstick Peppers –
Pimento Chiles –
Persian Cucumbers – petite and crunchy! No seeds=sweet!
Japanese Tomatoes – “Tough Boy” brings hefty flavor, succulence and meatiness.
Yellow Tomatoes – sweet, tangy and heartier than your average yellow tomato!
Pineapple Tomatoes – awesome through and through! Low-acid, beautifiul color variegation, hold up well for an heirloom!
Coastal Organics – Oxnard, CA
Coastal will return to the market in 2-3 weeks once their new crops can be harvested.
Coleman Family Farm – Carpinteria, CA
Pirella Lettuce – My new favorite! Perfect for summer, mild-flavored limestone variety originally developed in Kentucky to withstand the heat!
Red Butter (Piret) Lettuce – you won’t find this anywhere else! Awesome texture and buttery flavor!
Freckles Lettuce – Freckles! Sweet leaves, crispy inside. Perfect lettuce carrier for salads!
Lollo Rossa Lettuce – great for mixed salads, beautiful deep purple-red.
Treviso – this is an amazing green! Gorgeous, green and red and a hearty crunchy leaf.
Radicchio – note: small heads! Perfect for plate garnishes. Best Radicchio ever!
Thai Basil – “Siam Queen” has a delicious, spicy sweet flavor with a licorice basil aroma. It is
Red Bok Choy
Garcia Organic Farm – Fallbrook, CA
Brown Figs – sweet and Delicious!
Golden Figs – sweet, sweet, SWEET!
Gloria Tamai Farms, Oxnard, CA
White Corn – tender pale white kernels so sweet you’ll forget another color of corn exists…
Yellow Wax Beans
Blue Lake Beans
Heirloom Cherry Tomato Mix
Wild Arugula (bunches)
Jaime Farm – Ontario, CA
Mixed Baby Bunch Carrots – beautiful yellow, orange, red, and purple haze carrots with tops
Spanish Radishes – large pale fuchsia colored unique radish that is both peppery and sweet! GAPPING!
Baby White Belly Radish – Sweetest radish out there with edible greens, too makes these 100% delicious.
Shunkyo Radish – Shaped like a baby pink carrot: one moment it’s hot, the next it is sweet! My personal favorite! GAPPING!!!
Easter Egg Radish – gapping! mild, snappy flavor, vibrant color bouquet of pinks, reds and white.
Icicle Radish – gapping! looks like a white carrot (except the leaves)! Rich spicy flavor can be smoothed out with a little saute and butter!
Baby French Breakfast Radishes – tender on the inside, crispy on the outside heirloom variety that has a pleasant and mild flavor, not to mention tiny and adorable!!
Rainbow Chard – striking colors, hearty leaves. hit or miss availability this season.
Bull’s Blood Beets – GAPPING!!!!!!
Pink Beets – GAPPING!!!
Gold Beets – GAPPING!!!!
Walnuts – grown in the Santa Rita Hills at Rancho La Viña; these are addictive!!!
Life’s A Choke – Lompoc, CA
Baby Anzio Artichokes – a cross between green and purple artichokes, and very meaty!
Baby Purple Artichokes – a fruity flavor and a deep wine color that does not fade with cooking. Bred from the violetta de provence, a purple variety native to southern France.
Baby Green Zucchini with Flower – Life’s A Choke Farms inject water into each squash blossom’s stem to ensure their freshness and livelihood. A wonderful and glamorous spring and summer menu accoutrement!!
Lyon Artichoke with stem– large and in charge! This is a very jumbo, round, meaty variety from Southern France that yields a whole lot of heart!!
“California” Pencil Asparagus – Skinny, tender, tasty purple-tipped and LOCAL! So thin it cooks in a flash!
McGrath Family Farm – Camarillo, CA
Zephyr Squash – yellow and green, snappy and small, with a mild, creamy and sweet flesh so good you can eat it fresh!
Baby Bunch Candy Beets, Red Beets, Gold Beets
Shelling Beans – This week: Persian, Flageolets and maybe some cannelinnis
Baby Corn – hit or miss but delicious when its a Hit!
Rainbow Chard –
Mike and Son Egg Ranch – Ontario, CA
Brown Eggs farm fresh eggs that are unequivocally delicious with gleaming yolks! Each egg is individually candled! (5 doz case only)
Polito Family Farm – Valley Center, CA
Oro Blanco Grapefuit – golden-flesh, sweet and juicy – still going strong!
Pudwill Farm – Nipomo, CA
RANCHO DEL SOL – Jamul, CA
Tigger Melon – a petite and sweet melon with deep burnt orange variegated skin and a creamy white flesh that tastes like a honeydew-cantaloupe blend. I’m loving it!
Passport Melon – A tropical beauty with Israelian origins, full of tropical flavor and beautiful sun-kissed lemon skin and lime green flesh.
Boule D’ Or Melon -French (clearly) honeydew melon
Chinese Lemon Cucumber – This Chinese yellow is green when it is young transforming into an oval shaped cucumber that has beautiful striking lemon-orange variegated (non-bitter) skin with an apple-crisp white flesh, mild yet cucumber-true. Subtle hints of lemony flavor are revealed once the cucumber is ripened. When this variety ages its stripes fade.
Duck Eggs – Larger in size than chicken eggs, the whites of duck eggs tend to be a bit thicker and the yolks are a striking yellow. Duck eggs typically have a stronger flavor compared to that of a chicken egg.
Rutiz Farm – Arroyo Grande, CA
Persian Watercress– a unique variety, with a wonderfully spicy-sweet kick
Baby Calabrese Broccoli – available sporadically until late fall..
Blue Lake Beans –
Romano Beans – flat beany, crispy Italian green variety. Perfect summer bean for snap pea lovers.
Savoy Spinach – cut in small clusters of 3-4 leaves – beautiful!!
Weiser Family Farm – Bakersfield, CA
Padron Chile Peppers – small 1-1/1″ sweet and spicy numbers…
Red Thumb Potatoes – red skinned on the outside, and pretty in pink on the inside
Russian Banana Fingerlings – baker size, but oh so creamy..
Ron’s Burgundy Fingerlings – that’s right~there back! variations of red through and through, tender skin, great attractive potato for multiple applications!
French Heirloom Fingerlings – red-skinned, baker-sized and white-fleshed, has a very silky texture ( I love these!!)
La Ratte Fingerlings – GAPPING: nutty flavors, stand out fingerling, one of the best potatoes, ever!!
Baby Bermuda Onions – the mother of all SWEET onions, short season, though so appreciate…Now!
Spicy Greens Mix -a perfect combination of loose leaf arugula, mizuna and chard! You’ll love it!
Rustic Arugula – loose leaf, frisee style and perfectly peppered!
Torpedo Onions – these really ARE torpedos!! I don’t often put succulent and onion in the same sentence…but I just did..for a reason!
Red Russian Kale
Gravenstein Apples – from Windrose Farms (famous for their apple orchard)
Kidds Red Apples – also Windrose Farms
Yasutomi Farm – Pico Rivera, CA
Baby Bok Choy – amazingly tender, great flavor, good for braising and hey, even the grill…
Baby Celery – more leaves than stalk, hydroponically grown, slender and tasty stalks. The best baby celery available. Period.
Green Onion Chives – mild, sometimes sweet green onion and chive hydroponic hybrid. great shelf-life too!
Miners Lettuce – GAPPING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s hydroponic!!! It’s an heirloom European seed. It’s perfect!