FARMERS' MARKET REPORT: WEEK OF MAY 31, 2009

veggie-crates

SUPPLY VS. DEMAND:

Supply and demand is an economical model based on price, utility, and quantity (available) in the market.  In a competitive market, the model predicts that price equalizes demanded quantities and quantities supplied by producers, resulting in an economic equilibrium between price and quantity.  Clearly this is in a perfect world…
In today’s world, far more stark and critical predictions are being made about supply and demand that are unsettling and great cause for attention and action.  Remember the phrase “Think Global, Act Local”?  Most of us may assume it is a relatively new term.  It was actually first used in the book “Cities in Evolution” in 1915 by social activist Patrick Geddes. For nearly a century this phrase has been utilized to promote local consciousness in multiple contexts (environmental, business, agriculture) for the betterment of the world’s supply and demand. The argument for establishing local roots and supporting local roots has been active and yet, in our vastly expanding populated world, the argument has fallen short of being heard by the masses and today we are on the brink of a global food crisis that is not a short-term crisis nor one that can be solved by simply planting more. China, the world’s second largest corn-growing nation on the planet cannot even grow enough feed to sustain its pigs. As more grain is being diverted to livestock and the production of biofuels, demand has tripled since 2005. Supply and demand? The cost of corn has tripled since 2005 and it only continues to skyrocket.
Moreover, we have forgotten the source of the food that sustains us. Like breathing, walking and talking, we eat, often oblivious to the heaping global ramifications on our plate. Our beef comes from Oregon, fed by Iowan corn. Our blueberries come from Chile and our apple juice, not from Washington State, rather China. Modern society has not heeded the centuries’ old warnings, as modernity as we know it, has relieved us of the need to grow, harvest and even prepare our daily bread. We just pay for it. And the consequences are profound.
We are consuming food faster than it CAN be produced. At this rate, we need a green revolution or we will run out of food.
Buzz kill? What is a chef to do? Why are we responsible? As chefs, we are a vital and active participant in the food supply. There is no denying it. Every day, we walk into our kitchens and make decisions that have direct effects on the food chain. We can easily place orders for all of our commodities by the click of a button. We can smile at the Sysco trucks delivering goods to us from thousands of miles across the globe and sign the invoice and wave goodbye. The money saved is genius! The bottom line just got lower. Or did it bottom out? We are responsible because we hold the responsibility to our profession, to our craft, to our better judgement. We are chefs because we love food. We love that it inspires us to be better than our better selves. We love that food, at the end of the day makes us rise to the occasion. We love food because it is a natural wonder that feeds plenty. We love food because it is a gift that has been given to us and in our profession, if we allow it to shine, it allows us to shine.
We have access to over 3000 micro farms in Southern California alone. These farms are family institutions imbedded in our communities, generations of farmers working the soil, working with nature to produce the same gifts that feed the plenty. Thousands of miles away in China, a similar community relies on generations of family farms that also feed the plenty. We have a choice to choose. In an imperfect world, today, we too, can think global and act local.
To each and every chef that participates actively in the Farmers Market, I thank you. And I know the farmers thank you too. Every visit I pay to the farmers, they thank me for the support and the business that we give. That thank you is extended to each chef that makes the choice to buy a freshly picked vine-ripened tomato that screams, “Delicious….and local!”
~Melissa

MARKET REVIEW:

There was a lot of action on the farms this week!  Some for the better, some proving even more that Summer is here.  Summer proves unpredictable patterns in harvesting and it also puts to rest some of our favorite produce.  Heirloom tomatoes are looming.  Spinach varieties are wilting.  Lettuces are bolting, only to be seen again in October and in the lettuce-friendly months of winter.  Tangerines – we may just be tasting the last of them.  Cherries are everywhere!  And Fitzgerald Farms’ summer stone fruits are falling gracefully from the branches and into our hands.  Pay attention because this week, produce is shifting and moving at the speed of light!
Entering: Pluots from Scott Farms, Summer Baby Squash Mix from Coastal Organics (awesome!!!), Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Shunkyo Radishes and Black Plum Tomatoes from Jaime Farms, Tiny Tiny Apricots, Yellow Nectarines and Debutant Peaches from Fitzgerald Farms, Cherries from Simms Cherry Farm, Baby Green Artichokes from Life’s a Choke, Green Onion Chives and Miners Lettuce from Yasutomi Farm, Pink Variegated Lemons, Meyer Lemons and Murcott Tangerines from Garcia Organics, Russian Red Kale and Spicy Mix (Arugula, Mizuna and Chard) from Windrose Farm, and All Blues Potatoes from Weiser Famly Farms.
Back on track: Fiesole Artichokes from Life’s A Choke, Stinging Nettles and Dandelion Greens from Coleman Family Farms
Gapping: Bloomsdale Spinach from Weiser Family Farms, Savoy Spinach from Rutiz Farms, All Radishes from Jaime Farms
Exiting: Apriums, 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
Next week:  A video tour of a local heirloom tomato farm!!

MARKET TOUR:

Baby Green Artichokes – round, meaty and mild, more heart than other varieties, as it is simply a tinier version of its larger counterparts that get more sun. 100% edible!

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!!

Tulare Cherries – from Simms Cherry Farms – much like a bing and perfectly sweet!

Debutant Peaches – from Fitzgerald Farms. Sugar and acid strike the perfect balance making this the perfect peach!

Shunkyo Radishes – Shaped like a baby pink carrot: one moment it’s hot, the next it is sweet! My personal favorite!

Baby Summer Squash Mix– from Coastal Organics: a variety of Ronde Nice, 8-Ball, Green & Gold Zucchini, Sunburst (a.k.a gold patty pan) and Middle Eastern.

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 just love these meaty tomatoes! They are the most beautiful tomatoes at the market right now. Great pre-heirloom season variety nicknamed the “Tough Boy” for its heat-resilient texture and succulence!

Pencil California Asparagus – Skinny, tender, tasty purple-tipped and LOCAL! So thin it cooks in a flash!



Baby Celery – from Yasutomi Farm, more leaves than stalk, hydroponically grown, slender and almost herbaceously tasty stalks. The best baby celery available. Period.

Jerry’s Berries Strawberries (Galante variety) from Rutiz Farm – sweeter than candy!!
Jerry's Berries Strawberries from Rutiz Farm
Continue reading “FARMERS' MARKET REPORT: WEEK OF MAY 31, 2009”

The Taste of Little Italy

When traveling one of my most favorite ways to get to know a new place is by going for a walk and tasting my way across town. Sampling all of the deliciousness that the local restaurants, cafes, and food purveyors have to offer all the while taking time to leisurely walk around looking at all of the bits and pieces that make up a place, things that one might otherwise miss if traveling by car. Since most of us are too busy in our day to day lives to slow down this much it can also be fun to take a few hours and do this in your own hometown. Here in San Diego we are fortunate enough to have events that cater to just this sort of activity and last night I had the pleasure of strolling the streets and tasting my way across one of my favorite San Diego suburbs at Taste of Little Italy

serving
Between 5pm and 9pm twenty different local restaurants opened their doors to event attendees and welcomed them with small plates of some of their most popular and scrumptious offerings. Here are a few of my favorites….
 

Sunsweet watermelon, wild arugula and toasted pepita seed salad with golden balsamic dressing at Anthology
Sunsweet watermelon, wild arugula and toasted pepita seed salad with golden balsamic dressing at Anthology

Dining at Anthology is a full sensory experience! Scrumptious farm to table fare served in a swanky three level venue with acoustics that make each of their nightly shows an unforgettable experience for all who attend.

 

Pasta with homemade pesto and a cup of berries with sweetened mascarpone cheese at Mimmo’s Italian Village Deli & Restaurant
Pasta with homemade pesto and a cup of berries with sweetened mascarpone cheese at Mimmo’s Italian Village Deli & Restaurant

 I have always had a soft spot in my heart for good pesto and the pesto at Mimmo’s did not disappoint. Where they really won me over though was with their sweet offering, fresh sweet berries with rich mascarpone cheese, oh be still my heart! The interior of this restaurant is so cute! Decorated to look like you are dining alfresco in old Italia, I think it would be the perfect place to take your special someone for a romantic date. 
 
Miang of King Crab with ginger, lime and coconut palm sugar drizzle at The Glass Door at Porto Vista Hotel
Miang of King Crab with ginger, lime and coconut palm sugar drizzle at The Glass Door at Porto Vista Hotel

A dragon belly mojito at The Glass Door at Porto Vista Hotel
A dragon belly mojito at The Glass Door at Porto Vista Hotel

At the Porto Vista Hotel their their resturant, The Glass Door was serving for the event on the roof, which had a cozy set up of couches, out door heaters, bar, and spectacular views of the harbor and San Diego skyline. The small bite of king crab, ginger, lime and coconut palm sugar was a delectable amalgamation of flavors and the mojito was the perfect balance of refreshing and sweet with just the right amount of mint (which can make or break a mojito in my opinion). I can imagine sipping cocktails here on summer evenings after work, enjoying the spectacular San Diego sunset. I peeked inside the restaurant on the 5th floor on my way out and it boasted a gorgeous view as well and was beautifully decorated with colorful glass lanterns.
 
Ceviche at Indigo Grill
Ceviche at Indigo Grill

There’s nothing quite like ceviche on a warm almost summer evening. Fresh veggies bursting with color and flavor and the subtle fresh from the sea flavor of the shrimp, its the perfect precursor to any number of Indigo Grill’s delicious entrees. Using fresh seasonal ingredients Chef Debora Scott is consistently creating the most delectable dishes. From the roasted butternut squash soup to the hickory and apple smoked pork ribs everything they offer is always incredibly scrumptious! 
 
Prosecco at Enoteca Style
Prosecco at Enoteca Style

I could spend hours sipping wine and relaxing at Enoteca Style. This classy yet cozy wine bar not only boasts an outstanding selection of wine offerings but has an array of paninis, salads and other scrumptious small bites that pair quite well with their wines. Pop in on a Monday for Half Off Italian Wine by the Glass Monday (I know I will be there!).
 
Braised pork shoulder with orzo, spinach, and feta cheese at Illume Bistro
Braised pork shoulder with orzo, spinach, and feta cheese at Illume Bistro

You can tell that a great deal of thought is put into each and every dish that Illume offers. Farm fresh ingredients prepared and combined as to bring out the most palate pleasing flavors and textures. Their offering at the event was the perfect example of this, the soft orzo and sharp feta and sweet sundried tomato melded perfectly with the melt in your mouth slow roasted pork and spinach that tasted as fresh as greens I have grown in my own backyard. I will definitely be back again soon as I am dying to try their herbed gnocchi with fiddlehead ferns and pearl onions.
 
Chipotle sliders served on a Hawaiian roll with chipotle sauce and grilled onions at The Waterfront
Chipotle sliders served on a Hawaiian roll with chipotle sauce and grilled onions at The Waterfront

Since they first opened their doors in 1933 The Waterfront has been a popular spot to share a brew with friends and unwind after a day at work or even better mid day on a lunch break! In addition to beverages they also have an array of delicious twists on pub style fare such as Italian style fish and chips, breaded fish tacos and an array of mouth watering burgers and sandwiches. They are also open for breakfast and brunch serving everything from eggs, bacon and hash browns to French toast or pazole. 
 
Strawberry tart and green apple tart frozen yogurt from Yogurtland
Strawberry tart and green apple tart frozen yogurt from Yogurtland

Yogurtland has been one of my favorite frozen yogurt shops for a while now so you can imagine I was pleased as a peach when one opened up in Little Italy so close to us here at Specialty Produce. They always have a great selection of both tart and creamy flavors and an array of tasty toppings, from rainbow sprinkles, fruity pebbles, and mochi to fresh fruits and nuts Yogurtland has something that will please just about everyone.
 
If you happened to miss this delicious outing don’t fret, there will be more deliciousness to come at the Fall Taste of Little Italy! In the meantime why not pick a few restaurants, grab some food loving friends, put on your walking shoes and spend an evening tasting your way across Little Italy on your own.

 

Lovely Lemons

Nothing says, “hello summer!” quite like a glass of fresh squeezed lemonade. Now I know summer does not officially start for few more weeks but Memorial Day weekend always feels to me like the unofficial kick off to summertime. Particularly when it’s a warm sunshiny one like we are having here in San Diego. Luckily here at Specialty Produce we have an array of delicious lemons to choose from for all of your summertime lemonade making needs. Three of my personal favorites lemons are:
 
Organic Italian Sorrento Lemons
 Sorrento Lemons
Sweet Meyer Lemons from Garcia Farms
Myer lemons 
And a beautiful Farmers Market find, Pink Lemons from J.J. Lone Daughter Ranch.
Pink Lemons 
All three of these lemons made for an amazing glass of lemonade, are perfectly tart, and so lemony that their scent will linger deliciously on your fingers long after you have squeezed them of their juice.
There are so many different delicious ways to enjoy lemonade…

  • Infused with herbs such as lavender or basil
  • Served bubbly by substituting a little club soda for the water
  • Sweetened with a simple syrup infused with vanilla bean
  • With any number of colorful fruits chopped up and mixed in such as kiwi, blood orange, pineapple or blueberries

Here is one of my personal favorite lemonade recipes…
 
Muddled Strawberry Mint Lemonade
strawberry-mint-lemonade
When at the peak of their season berries are a sweet addition to the tart lemon juice and on particularly warm days mint makes for an extra refreshing beverage.
 
Ingredients
2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 or 6 cups of water
1 cup sugar (or alternative sweetener of choice)
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/3 cup mint leaves
 
Preparation
After juicing the lemons pour 2 cups of the juice into a pitcher and set aside.
Place about half of the strawberries, mint and sugar in a bowl and muddle together using the back of a spoon or fork. Add this mixture to the lemon juice and stir to combine. Add 5 cups of water and the remaining strawberries, sugar, and mint and stir until combined.
At this point you should taste your summery concoction and feel free to add more water or sugar to your hearts content.   
Pop the pitcher in the fridge to chill for a few hours or serve immediately over ice. If you have time you can make ice cubes with bits of mint leaves frozen inside of them or make ice cubes out of the lemonade to later serve it over.

Farmers' Market Report: Week of May 24, 2009

Pluots and Cherries from Scott Farms Santa Monica FM
Pluots and Cherries from Scott Farms Santa Monica FM

REALITY CHECK:

Today, more than 6 billion people rely on food grown on merely 11 percent of the global land surface.  Only a scant 3 percent of the earth’s surface is inherently fertile soil.  Soil degradation and erosion are transforming productive land into wasteland at tragic speeds.  “The history of every nation”  President Franklin Roosevelt said, “is eventually written in the way in which it cared for its soil.”
Enough said.
~Melissa

MARKET REVIEW:

After a tour de market, I was again overwhelmed with the sights, sounds and smells of the bustling exchange of goods between farmers and their community. Stone fruits were everywhere:  pluots, apriums, yellow peaches and nectarines, bing and ranier cherries.  Squashes are hitting the scene in their more infant stages, as well as eggplants and cherry heirloom tomatoes.  In the coming weeks (and months) summer harvest will be hitting us full force and our menus will finally exude what we all have been waiting for.  Memorial Day has beckoned the call of grilling vegetables and even fruits and nature has answered the call in timely fashion.  Spring onions are giving way to summer as they bolt into a new season and new form, as are shallot shoots becoming..well, shallots. Gem lettuces have seen their last legs and will reappear again in October when the heat has little control over their destiny.  Other lettuce varieties such as freckles and red piret will be around as long as they resist the urge to bolt, which will not happen sooner than August.  Monday marks the unofficial kickoff to summer, so put your summer menus together and consider all of your options, as there are a plethora of them!
Entering: Pluots from Scott Farms, Summer Baby Squash Mix from Coastal Organics, Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Shunkyo Radishes and Black Plum Tomatoes from Jaime Farms, Apriums, Yellow Nectarines and Debutant Peaches from Fitzgerald Farms, Cherries from Simms Cherry Farm, Baby Green Artichokes from Life’s a Choke, Green Onion Chives from Yasutomi Farm, Pink Variegated Lemons, Meyer Lemons and Murcott Tangerines from Garcia Organics, Russian Red Kale and Spicy Mix (Arugula, Mizuna and Chard) from Windrose Farm, and All Blues Potatoes from Weiser Famly Farms. Look out for Valdivia Farms on our upcoming reports. They have been a mainstay of Specialty Produce as well as the Santa Monica Farmers Market. We will be featuring their seasonal produce as it is some of the finest on the market not only in Santa Monica but in all of California. They have beautiful micro patty pans and squash blossoms as well as the most prestine baby white turnip bunches I have ever seen.
Back on track: Fiesole Artichokes from Life’s A Choke, Stinging Nettles and Dandelion Greens from Coleman Family Farms
Gapping: Bloomsdale Spinach from Weiser Family Farms
Exiting: Meiwa Kumquats, Paige Tangerines and Gold Nuggets from Garcia Organics, Black Kale, Baby Turnips (Coastal Organics) and Watermelon Radishes from Mcgrath Farms
Hard work and commitment are at the heart of our farmers’ success and their passion drives its livelihood. Thank you for your continued support and excitement for the truest of products available to all of us.
Final Note: Chefs are buzzing over the market, a couple have made the trip recently and many have requested taking a special trip to Santa Monica to experience it for themselves. It is sometimes indescribable just how awesome the market is in person. Taking oneself out of the kitchen and into the playground that is the fertile beginning of both the creative and productive engine can be inspiring and encouraging beyond belief and more often than not, just what the doctor ordered!
Happy Memorial Day!
Check back for an iphone slideshow of my market visit this week!!

MARKET TOUR:

It is still May and that means it is still Artichoke month!!
And I repeat:  Artichokes abound at the market and no grower produces meatier, flavorful and presentable and 100% delicious artichokes than Daisy at Life’s A Choke Farms. If you have yet to try the giant Lyon or Baby Green varieties there is no time like the present!
Baby Green Artichokes – round, meaty and mild, more heart than other varieties, as it is simply a tinier version of its larger counterparts that get more sun. 100% edible!

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!!

Tulare Cherries – from Simms Cherry Farms – much like a bing and perfectly sweet!

Debutant Peaches – from Fitzgerald Farms.  Sugar and acid strike the perfect balance making this the perfect peach!

Shunkyo Radishes – Shaped like a baby pink carrot: one moment it’s hot, the next it is sweet! My personal favorite!

Baby Summer Squash Mix– from Coastal Organics:  a variety of Ronde Nice, 8-Ball, Green & Gold Zucchini, Sunburst (a.k.a gold patty pan) and Middle Eastern.

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 just love these meaty tomatoes! They are the most beautiful tomatoes at the market right now. Great pre-heirloom season variety nicknamed the “Tough Boy” for its heat-resilient texture and succulence!

Pencil California Asparagus – Skinny, tender, tasty purple-tipped and LOCAL! So thin it cooks in a flash!



Baby Celery – from Yasutomi Farm, more leaves than stalk, hydroponically grown, slender and almost herbaceously tasty stalks. The best baby celery available. Period.

Jerry’s Berries Strawberries (Galante variety) from Rutiz Farm – sweeter than candy!!
Jerry's Berries Strawberries from Rutiz Farm
Continue reading “Farmers' Market Report: Week of May 24, 2009”

ARTSea Cafe 2009

One of my favorite things about San Diego Chefs is that they are some of the most generous and supportive people I have ever met. They spend a lot of their time perfecting their craft in order to please restaurant patrons, but they also dedicate a huge chunk of time to great causes benefiting the less fortunate. One of these causes, ARTS, A Reason To Survive, held their 5th Annual ARTSea Cafe event at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel this past weekend.  Here are some shots of the event, the chefs & the food prepared.  I wasn’t able to get to all the food, because I was also volunteering, so I’m sorry to those I missed out on!  Regrettably sorry, actually 😉  Enjoy!


If you’d like to see more photos from the event here is a link to some gorgeous professional photos! ARTSea Cafe photos by Ironstring Communications

Scrumptious Simplicity

There is nothing more scrumptious on a warm sunshiny day than fresh fruits and veggies. One of my favorite sides for just such a day is a mix between a caprese salad and bruschetta. The combination of juicy tomatoes, robust garlic, and fresh flavorful basil is delicious when placed atop pizza, mixed into pasta with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese or simply enjoyed on its own.
The are only a few ingredients in this dish, the trick to getting this salad to really shine is to make sure you are using the freshest ingredients you can find. This past week I have found the Japanese tomatoes from Beylik Farms to be perfectly sweet, the classic Red On the Vine tomatoes work splendidly too, or for a splash of color try mixing in some Heirloom tomatoes.
Caprese Chop Salad
Serves 4

tombasilgarlic

Ingredients
8 tomatoes, cut into small squares
6-10 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preparation
Combine the tomatoes, basil, and garlic in a small bowl, add salt and pepper to desired taste and wha-la it’s complete! Set aside to use as a tasty addition to a meal later or grab a fork and enjoy as is.
bruschetta
With the right ingredients even the simplest of recipes can be a scrumptious success!

Red Sweet Corn – Available!!

Red corn is available right now at $16.95 per case!
This variety is sweeter than white corn!  I’m sure you’re thinking how could corn get more sweet?  Want to read more about it? Click the image below to go to the product page where you will find interesting facts & information on this delicious colored corn.  Be sure to check back in the next couple days to see what Restaurants in town are serving it up…

red sweet corn & Richard

Ps. Doesn’t he look like he’s ready to bust out the BBQ?  I’m a huge fan of making the bosses pose for pictures with produce!  It just makes the work day that much more awesome!  Happy Friday!

red sweet corn of victory!
red sweet corn of victory!

FARMERS' MARKET REPORT: WEEK OF MAY 17, 2009

SUSTAIN:

Although this word has become a popular term in the culinary landscape, it has been at the root of the counterculture of American living since agribusiness became the new face of agriculture in a 20th century modern world.  While  big business always has its “positive” effects, it also has dire effects and costs that have left our lands and water riddled with agricultural despair  and dis-ease:  topsoil erosion, groundwater contamination, neglect of living and working conditions for farm laborers and the outright sale and decline of family farms.
The growing movement in the past two decades toward sustainable agriculture has addressed both social and environmental concerns while making its way into  the mainstream mindset, a collective consciousness that we need support from in order for this vital way of thinking and living to thrive in a 21st Century global world.
Sustainability relies on the present population to meet its own needs while not compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.  Sustainable living means that the natural life cycles must take place in order for survival.
The farmers that we work with are  so in tune with these cycles that they are direct agents in the vitality of sustainable agriculture.  One of the major factors in their crop success lies in diversity.  Diversified farming practices was once a way of life.  Monoculture farming was and is a product of agribusiness.  Yet the risk of planting one crop can put a farm of any size out of business.  Growing a variety of plants can help sustain a farm economically and lower the fluctuation of supply and demand.  Crop rotation protects against crop failure and also buffers the farm biologically.
Micro seasons appear within the bigger seasons as smaller “buffer” crops have shorter life cycles and yield smaller harvests.  As chefs, just when we get really excited about some of these littler more unique crops they vanish, only to appear again in another micro season.
That is the beauty and also the foundation of sustainability.  Take only what you need, enjoy and honor it.  We all participate in an invaluable and fragile system that hangs in the balance of cooperation of human and nature.
Embrace it~
Melissa

MARKET UPDATE:

Root vegetables and some lettuces and greens are vanishing from the farmers’ tables including Black Kale from Coastal Organics, Baby Beets and Watermelon Radishes from McGrath.  Look out for many heirloom tomato varieties in all sizes from multiple farms to be taking stage as well as peaches, peaches and peaches from Fitzgerald Farm.
Entering:  Apriums, First Lady Peaches and Debutant Peaches from Fitzgerald Farms, Cherries from Simms Cherry farm, Baby Green Artichokes from Life’s a Choke, Green Onion Chives from Yasutomi Farm, Shunkyo Radishes and Black Plum Tomatoes from Jaime Farm, Pink Variegated Lemons, Meyer Lemons and Murcott Tangerines  from Garcia Organics, Russian Red Kale, French Leeks (slim, sweet and savory all in one!) and Oriental Mix (red and green frill!) from Windrose Farm, and All blues Potatoes and Red Spring Onions from Weiser Famly Farms.
Gapping: Fiesole Artichokes from Life’s A Choke and Bloomsdale Spinach from Weiser Family Farms
Exiting: Meiwa Kumquats, Paige Tangerines and  Gold Nuggets from Garcia Organics, Black Kale, Baby Turnips (Coastal Organics) and Watermelon Radishes from Mcgrath Farms

MARKET TOUR:

Artichokes abound at the market and no grower produces meatier, flavorful and presentable and 100% delicious artichokes than Daisy at Life’s A Choke Farms.  If you have yet to try the giant Lyon or Baby Green varieties there is no time like the present!
Baby Green Artichokes – round, meaty and mild, more heart than other varieties, as it is simply a tinier version of its larger counterparts that get more sun. 100% edible!

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!!

French Leeks – from Windrose Farms, sexy and slim stems, juicy bulbs full of sweeter savory leek flavor.

Shunkyo Radishes – Shaped like a baby pink carrot: one moment it’s hot, the next it is sweet! My personal favorite!

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 just love these meaty tomatoes! They are the most beautiful tomatoes at the market right now. Great pre-heirloom season variety nicknamed the “Tough Boy” for its heat-resilient texture and succulence!

Pencil California Asparagus – Skinny, tender, tasty purple-tipped and LOCAL! So thin it cooks in a flash!

Gem Lettuces: Red and Green from Coastal Organics – these lettuces are unparalleled in their sweetness, rich colors, crisp textures and succulent leaves



Baby Celery – from Yasutomi Farm, more leaves than stalk, hydroponically grown, slender and almost herbaceously tasty stalks. The best baby celery available. Period.

Jerry’s Berries Strawberries (Galante variety) from Rutiz Farm – sweeter than candy!!
Jerry's Berries Strawberries from Rutiz Farm
Continue reading “FARMERS' MARKET REPORT: WEEK OF MAY 17, 2009”

Have you heard about Prepkitchen yet?

You know those days where you just don’t feel like cooking, and you don’t feel like going out to eat, and you definitely don’t want anything from the “fast food” or “take-out” joints? Well, now you have an option……. Prepkitchen!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:
Katherine Randall
BERKMAN
619.231.9977 (office)
katherine@berkmanpr.com

PARTNERS OF NATIONALLY ACCLAIMED RESTAURANT WHISKNLADLE OPEN PREPKITCHEN, A GOURMET TAKE-OUT EATERY

Serving handcrafted quick-service meals for lunch and dinner in La Jolla, Calif.
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (May 12, 2009) – The managing partners of nationally acclaimed Whisknladle Restaurant today announced the opening of Prepkitchen (www.Prepkitchen.com), a gourmet take-out eatery serving quick-bites, complete lunches and fully balanced dinners in downtown La Jolla. Inspired by all the prep work that goes into making food from scratch, Prepkitchen serves handcrafted, artisanal food offering the convenience of to-go dining without compromising the quality of the meal.
“The success of Whisknladle has been so rewarding and we are excited to further expand our signature brand with the opening of Prepkitchen,” said Arturo Kassel, managing partner of Whisknladle and Prepkitchen. “Our goal with Prepkitchen is to make the handcrafted cuisine we serve at Whisknladle accessible to those who want to dine in the comfort of their own home or want to grab a quick meal to eat-in on their lunch break.”
Ryan Johnston, executive chef of Prepkitchen and Whisknladle, has fashioned an a la carte take-out bill of prepared foods, made fresh daily, with a special emphasis placed on fresh high-quality proteins and organic produce purchased from local farms.
Prepkitchen’s dinner menu, available all day, from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., offers a selection of prepared entrées such as Niman Ranch Pork Loin Porchetta, Roasted Jidori Chicken, Braised Lamb Shoulder, Slow Roasted Niman Ranch Tri Tip Beef, Herb Roasted Fresh Catch and Handmade Pasta of the Day. Entrée prices range from $12 to $19.
Served by the half pint are side dishes of vegetables, starches and snacks such as Chicken Stuffed Piquillo Peppers, Squid Escabeche Ceviche, Rustic Potato Salad, Marinated Olives and more. Also available is a cutting board of house cured meats and artisanal cheeses. Lunch menu items consist of a homemade soup of the day and a variety of salads and sandwiches.
Other unique features include half bottles of wine carefully selected to complement the food and served at retail prices to-go and with an $8 corkage fee for dining-in. Retail and catering options allowing customers to order their own platter of antipasto, cured meats and artisan cheeses for easy entertaining are also offered.
Prepkitchen is located at 7556 Fay Avenue, La Jolla California 92037. Prepkitchen is open for walk-in or call-ahead orders daily from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and offers delivery services from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Monday through Friday) within an eight-block radius via bicycle. Lunch and dinner menus are available all day. For more information please call 858-875-PREP or visit www.Prepkitchen.com.

About Prepkitchen

Prepkitchen (www.Prepkitchen.com) is a gourmet take-out eatery serving quick-bites, complete lunches and fully balanced dinners in downtown La Jolla. Inspired by all the prep work that goes into making food from scratch, Prepkitchen serves handcrafted, artisanal food offering the convenience of to-go dining without compromising the quality of the meal.

Prepkitchen offers homemade soups, sandwiches and salads for lunch, as well as a fully balanced dinner selection of roasted meats, poultry and fish, complemented with a selection of locally grown starches and vegetables that are packaged to-go and can be heated in your oven at home. Also available for pick up are house-cured meats, artisan cheeses, fresh handmade pastas and sauces and Mediterranean anti-pasti.

Prepkitchen is located at 7556 Fay Avenue, La Jolla California 92037. Prepkitchen is open for walk-in or call-ahead orders daily from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and offers delivery services from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Monday through Friday) within an eight-block radius via bicycle. Lunch and dinner menus are available all day. For more information please call 858-875-PREP or visit www.Prepkitchen.com. 7556 Fay Avenue • La Jolla • CA • Across From VONS Supermarket

About Whisknladle

Whisknladle is a neighborhood spot that takes a back to the basics approach to food and dining. Arturo Kassel, owner and proprietor, and Ryan Johnston, executive chef and partner opened the new concept in February 2008. Whisknladle specializes in gourmet comfort food, which is tasty, honest, healthy and fresh, and meant to satisfy the belly and satiate the soul. The restaurant purchases all of its ingredients from local organic farms and growers like Chino Farms and La Milpa and Chef Johnston also bakes, churns, smokes, ages, cures and pickles everything in-house, taking a very old-world approach in his kitchen.

Whisknladle features private dining, off-site catering and an after-hours bar and lounge. Lunch is served daily and brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 to 3:00 p.m. Enjoy Happy Hour cocktails and the bar menu daily from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Dinner is served from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Happy Hour cocktails and a limited menu are available after hours from 10:00 p.m. until last call on Friday and Saturday nights. 1044 Wall Street, La Jolla, CA, 92037. 858.551.7575 (tel), www.whisknladle.com

Featured in Food & Wine Magazine
Conde Nast Traveler Hot List – One of the World’s 105 Best New Restaurants, 2008
Riviera Magazine – 3/4 Stars “Whisknladle manages to be all things to all people.”

La Jolla Village News, Winner of Best New Restaurant Reader’s Poll 2008

San Diego Union Tribune – 3/4 Stars “It happens to be one of the most

exciting restaurants in San Diego.” Michelle Parente, Food Critic

San Diego Reader – 4/5 Stars “I predict that in a couple of years, this is likely to become

not only one of the county’s most famous restaurants, but one of the

whole country’s food meccas.” Naomi Wise, Food Critic

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Sweets of Spring

Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and produce sections at markets all over town seem to be getting more and more colorful with each passing day. Spring has most definitely arrived here in San Diego and nothing says spring to me quite like strawberries. Here at Specialty Produce we offer an array of different strawberry varieties throughout the season to meet all of your berry needs.
Strawberries
Right now we are loving all of the strawberries from our local California farms which are a perfectly sweet snack on their own, make a simple yet elegant dessert when topped with a bit of fresh cream, and are scrumptious when enjoyed with Humboldt fog goat cheese.  From simple preparation to complex recipes there are so many different ways to enjoy this delicious springtime fruit, here are a couple sweet strawberry recipes I have been enjoying the past few weeks.
Chocolate Strawberry Oatmeal

Serves 2
strawberry oatmeal
Ingredients
1 cup oats
1¾ cup milk (soy or moo cow, you can also substitute water for some or all of the milk if you are watching your calories)
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 cup strawberries, cut into bite sized pieces
15 or so chocolate chips
Preparation
Bring the milk, water (if using), and oats to a light boil then reduce heat to a low simmer and add your vanilla flavoring and cocoa powder. After 5 minutes of cooking or when most of the liquid has absorbed from the oatmeal, reduce heat to low and add the strawberries. Stir gently to combine, let sit for a minute just to heat the strawberries through a smidge and then portion oats into two bowls and top with chocolate chips.
Berry Sweet Cupcakes
frosted cupcakes
This recipe makes 12 cupcakes but you can always double the batter if you want 24, and if you have any hungry family or friends around trust me you will want more than 12! It is also a gluten free recipe that I promise tastes just as delicious if not dare I say better than any gluteny cake you have ever tried.
Ingredients
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup brown rice flour
¾ cup potato starch or tapioca flour
½ teaspoon xanath gum
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 3oz package strawberry jello
½ cup canola oil
½ cup milk (soy or moo cow)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries
Preparation
Preheat the oven to 350 then combine the sugar and eggs in a large bowl and beat until well combined. In another bowl sift together the flours, xanath gum, baking powder, salt, and jello. In a third bowl combine the oil, milk, vanilla and strawberries and using a stand or hand mixer blend on medium high until the berries have broken down. Slowly add the liquid berry mixture and the flour mixture to the bowl of egg and sugar and beat at medium speed until fully combined and slightly fluffy, about 1 minute.
Pour the rosy batter into a paper cup lined muffin tin and bake for 17 to 20 minutes or until cakes have browned along the edges slightly. Let the cupcakes cool for a few minutes before removing them from the tin to sit on a wire rack until completely cool. Top the cakes with your favorite frosting, I used a cream cheese one.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Ingredients
½ cup cream cheese
½ cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
Preparation 
Cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add to this the sugar, vanilla, and milk and mix until completely smooth. Spread the frosting onto the cupcakes. Any extra frosting can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days.
cupcake
Soft fluffy cake, sweet strawberries, and rich cream cheese frosting all wrapped up in a pretty pink package. The perfect springtime treat for all of the strawberry lovers in your life.