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

###

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.

Chefs de Cuisine General Meeting – May 17th

Come join us for The Chefs de Cuisine Association’s may meeting at Specialty Produce.
Click here for a PDF flyer!

PROFESSIONALS & PUBLIC ARE WELCOME

WHERE: Specialty Produce Warehouse – 1929 Hancock St. San Diego, CA 92110
WHEN:  Sunday, May 17th/ 3pm-6pm
Cost of attendance = $10
Knowledge you’ll leave with = priceless
WHATS IN STORE FOR YOU?
FRESH ORIGINS: Owner, David Sasuga will be showcasing his line of locally grown microgreens, petitegreen, flowers, tendergreens and tiny vegetables!
PASCUCCI PASTA: A Family owned Company that has become known for their freshly made, high quality Pasta and Ravioli! Owner Daniel Tapia will answer all of your pasta questions and Chef Damasso Lee from Trattoria Acqua will be cooking them up!
GELATO VERO: Owner Aaron Rabinowitz will be scooping out samples of their high-end gelato which may include unique flavors such as giandua (Chocolate hazelnut), Bluberry-Creme Fraiche and Triple espresso!
KINOKO COMPANY: (Formerly Golden Gourmet Mushrooms): Using strict Japanese techniques, Kinoko Company has recently finished remodeling their San Marcos plant and is now producing local exotic mushrooms! Their line includes Brown and White bunashemeji, Enoki, King Trumpet and Maitake mushrooms.
Wagyu Kobe Beef
Displays of this seasons freshest fruit and veggies and a prize opportunity drawing that could bring you a variety of high end food items.
*****The educational Seminars are worth several CEH education points for ACF certification
San Diego Chefs de Cuisine Association Website
San Diego Chefs, Culinarians, Brewers & Vintners on facebook
RSVP to this event on facebook

FARMERS' MARKET REPORT: WEEK OF MAY 10, 2009

Santa Monica Farmers Market:  Beylik Farms

WHEEL OF LIFE:

“Good farmers use land according to its livelihood.  They are careful students of its natural vegetation, soil depth, structure, slope and drainage.  They are not appliers of generalizations, theoretical, methodical or mechanical.  Nor are they active agents of their own economical will, working their way upon an inert and passive mass.  They are responsive partners in an intimate and mutual relationship.
The attitudes and values of traditional agriculture still survive in our time and are supported by the experience of our time.  Their survival is marginal but survivors do exist.  Farmers are people of principle, both stubborn and adventurous, independent enough to trust their own experience and strong enough to hold in considerable isolation of truths not officially or popularily favored.  Their farms stand for their principles and prove them.”
– Wendell Berry, agrarian prophet, writer,  lifetime farmer and one of my heroes.  This excerpt is from his book “The Unsettling of America:  Culture and Agriculture”.
One does not follow the words of Wendell Berry without great shadows looming.  Wendell Berry gets it.  He has been been preaching the gospel of local eating since 1960.  His passion and focus are unwavering, his arguments and observations are more relevant today than ever.  Amid your culinary adventures, research, etc.  look him up.
In the meantime, find out what is happening in the word of produce right here at home.
~Melissa

MARKET UPDATE:

On the horizon:  42 million heirloom tomato varieties including Heirloom Cherry tomatoes from Coastal Organics.  Just a few less varieties of every size summer squash imaginable and stone fruits of every shape, size and texture.  Landing in the market from here through summer’s end!  As each variety appears the 411 will come your way!
Entering:  Cherries from Simms Cherry farm, First Lady Peaches from Fitzgerald Farms,  Baby Green Artichokes from Life’s a Choke, Green Onion Chives from Yasutomi Farm, Radishes, Radishes, Radishes and Black Plum Tomatoes from Jaime Farm, Meyer Lemons, Gold Nuggets 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:  Paige Tangerines from Garcia Organics, Black Kale, Baby Turnips (Coastal Organics) and Watermelon Randishes from Mcgrath Farms

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!!

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

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!

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

French Leeks from Windrose Farms
Baby White Belly Radish – sweetest radish out there with edible greens too makes these 100% delicious.

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

Meiwa Kumquats

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 10, 2009”

French Heirloom Potatoes in Vinaigrette

Our very first recipe! Much thanks to food writer Caron Golden for sharing her discoveries & hard work with all of us.  She records her adventures with food at San Diego Foodstuff and San Diego News Network.

“To Market, To Market… With San Diego Foodstuff is your guide to the culinary treats found beyond our region’s homogeneous supermarkets–in ethnic markets, artisan bakeries, specialty gourmet shops, produce markets and more.” – San Diego Foodstuff

French Heirloom Potatoes in Vinaigrette Recipe
By Caron Golden
Serves 4

If you can have a favorite potato, mine is the little French heirloom potato. It’s a petite red oblong tuber, about three or four inches long, with flesh that’s a very dainty yellow hue. Instead of roasting potatoes, which I love to do, I slice these and boiled them briefly, then toss them with the Dijon Green Garlic vinaigrette, sliced kalamata olives and, yes, the greens from the green garlic. The dressing soaks into the potatoes, giving them both a terrific consistency and pronounced flavor from the garlic and mustard.

  • ½ cup Kalamata olives, sliced
  • ½ cup Dijon Green Garlic Vinaigrette (see below)

Boil potato slices in salted water until just tender. Remove from heat and drain.
Remove greens from the green garlic and chop coarsely.
Make vinaigrette. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and gently mix them together to avoid breaking up the potato slices. Let sit for about 20 minutes to let the potatoes fully absorb the dressing. Add more vinaigrette if necessary.
Dijon Green Garlic Vinaigrette
Makes 1 cup

  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 2/3 cup olive oil

Mince head and white part of green garlic stalk.
Whisk together all the ingredients but the olive oil to blend. Then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Let sit for at least an hour to let the flavors come together. Taste and adjust seasonings.

french-heirloom-potatoes1

**Photos & recipes courtesy of Caron Golden**

FARMERS' MARKET REPORT: WEEK OF MAY 3, 2009

"visually Distressed Apples" at the Santa Monica Farmers Market

MOTHER NATURE:

She has a way of reminding us who really is in charge.  Amid the conversations I have been having with the farmers this week, I got the clear impression that we are at Nature’s mercy.  Crops fail, field’s lose fertility, the heat forces herbs to flower and lettuces to get a sunburn.  While the last paige tangerine falls off the tree, cherries are showing their first true sign of maturity.  Chives are blossoming and all those tomato plants that flowered are now expressing fruitful bounty.  Late winter root vegetables are finally giving way to the spring and the last of the baby carrots have been plucked from the earth…for now…
Farmers work miracles in their fields.  They have a special relationship with Mother Nature that garners the utmost respect.  They are aware that they must work together to keep our land’s fertile offerings abundant and strong.  Farmers understand nature’s seasonal desires and her need to replenish the earth responsibly.  When the time comes to close one door and open another, farmers have already gotten the signal and the new buds are in the ground.  All we have to do is be patient and the seasons will continue to reveal themselves brilliantly.
Happy Artichoke Month!
~Melissa

MARKET UPDATE:

May is here and it is peak artichoke season!  From anzios to baby green artichokes, the small globes with stem to the larger than life Lyons, there is no time like the present to let these ancient thistle plants show off their delicious culinary awesomeness.  Braise, grill, saute and love the outcome!  As for their agricultural contribution, they contribute a hearty amount of cash to the California economy.  99% of artichokes grown in America are grown right here in our state’s soil. Never underestimate an artichoke…
Entering:  Wild Mushrooms from Clearwater Farm!  Baby Green Artichokes from Life’s a Choke, Small Globe Artichokes with Stem from Tutti Frutti, Green Onion Chives from Yasutomi Farm, Radishes, Radishes, Radishes and Black Plum Tomatoes from Jaime Farm, Meyer Lemons, Gold Nuggets and Murcott Tangerines,  from Garcia Organics and Russian Red Kale, French Leeks (slim, sweet and savory all in one!) and Oriental Mix (red and green frill!) from Windrose Farm.
Gapping:  Fiesole Artichokes from Life’s A Choke, Bloomsdale Spinach, Fingerling Mix Potatoes and Baby Carrots from Weiser Farms
Exiting:  Paige Tangerines

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!!

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

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!

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

French Leeks from Windrose Farms
Baby White Belly Radish – sweetest radish out there with edible greens too makes these 100% delicious.

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

Meiwa Kumquats

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 3, 2009”

FARMERS MARKET REPORT: WEEK OF APRIL 25TH

McGrath Family Farm, Santa Monica Farmers Market
McGrath Family Farm, Santa Monica Farmers Market

AGRICULTURAL ECONOMY

Farming is at the root of American cultural development and at its truest is a spiritual discipline and a significant provider of both rural and urban communities.  The farmers that provide us with the goods from their land exemplify just that.  For several decades our country emphasized big agribusiness which de-emphasized community and estranged people from the land and knowing their food source.  The burgeoning of farmers markets across America in the last decade alone is a warming sign that we collectively desire a closer connection to our farmers and the foods we eat.  Today there are over 4600 farmers markets from coast to coast and agricultural commerce is thriving through greater personal connections once again.  Even more importantly, the connection between the chefs within the restaurants demanding food from its source has created an agricultural revival.  They have raised the collective standards for fresh produce for their guests and increased the ultimate value of their dining experience.  Our farmers are doing the best they can to provide sustenance and livelihood via the produce they harvest.  They are the redemptive forces at the wheel propelling our communities together in the name of food, bridging the miles between us into acres and feet.  There is little more to say than that.  It is an invaluable valuable that brings better meaning to the bottom line.



OUR FARMERS’ GOODS
I cannot get over the Japanese tomatoes from Beylik Farms.  They are some of the best tomatoes I have ever eaten, ever.  I consider myself quite the tomato connoisseur.  I have been eating them and loving them since I can remember.  Beylik Farms has taken a truly resilient tomato variety dubbed the “Tough Boy” and grown it hydroponically, which allows vines to reach as high as TWELVE feet tall.  With the assistance from bumblebees for pollination, they produce these meaty, succulent stand-out tomatoes that can hold their own against an heirloom variety any day.

Japanese Tomatoes from Beylik Famliy Farms
Japanese Tomatoes from Beylik Famliy Farms

I truly cannot say enough about the Coleman Family Farm.  Everything they grow seems to come from magic!  From their premium heirloom lettuce varieties to the best green garlic I have seen and tasted at the market, they have turned growing into an art form.  Even through the heat wave their crops have sustained themselves and continue to thrive.  The Piret Butter Lettuce and Freckles Lettuce are the perfect canvas for a salad, the Broccoli Spigarello is begging to be braised and their green garlic is spring at its finest: young, bright and alive!
Green Garlic from Coleman Family Farm
Green Garlic from Coleman Family Farm

For your radish fix, Jaime Farm is bringing us nearly every radish variety in the book:  Icicle Radishes, French Breakfast Radishes, Easter Egg Radishes and my personal favorite Baby White Belly Radishes.  They are also growing some SUPERB jumbo sweet red and white Spring Onions, that are harvested before they reach their full size and packed moist, not dried.  They also have the most amazing sweet and flavorful Black Cherry Tomatoes ever.
Life’s A Choke makes artichoke growing look easy!  Daisy bring dozens of forty pound bins to the market full of her signature varieties, Anzio, Fiesole and Lyon and blazes through them before 9 AM!  But never underestimate a great farmer!  In her repetoire she also has purple-tipped Pencil California Asparagus and Squash Blossoms that are glowing form the recent burst of water they have been injected with!
Purple-Tipped Pencil California Asparagus from Life's A Choke Farm
Purple-Tipped Pencil California Asparagus from Life's A Choke Farm

Garcia Organic Farm and Polito Family Farm are still harvesting some of the juciest citrus at any market!  Growing unique varieties like Meiwa Kumquats (Garcia), Tom’s Terrific Tangerines (Polito) and some of the sweetest Meyer Lemons (Garcia) I have ever tasted, these farmers know citrus!
McGrath has the Firecracker lettuce along with Wild Arugula.  Rutiz Farm has just introduced some Cherry Victoria Rhubarb into the lineup!  A perfect marriage for their Jerry’s Berries, chefs???  And English Peas get their California plates from Tutti Frutti Farm, picking young, tender and SWEET!
Coastal Organics is harvesting choice fava beans that have been sleeping tenderly in their comfy pillowy blankets, but now it’s time to eat them!  A labor of love and worth every shelling!  They also grow the best Green and Red Gem Lettuces that if were put into a contest would win the blue ribbon!
Green Gem Lettuce from Coastal Organics
Green Gem Lettuce from Coastal Organics

As May nears, warmer season produce appears and the horizon is looking sweet, succulent and soon, ripe for the picking.  Seasons ebb and flow.  New life brings new ideas and creative offerings.  Stay tuned!
PIONEER

On a final and humbling note, this week San Diego lost one if its greatest culinary pioneers, George Munger.  He was a man of stature, vision and inspiration.  He and his wife, Piret brought culinary class and idealism to San Diego.  In the 1970’s, through their restaurants, they introduced San Diego to the best food it had ever seen yet.  In 1975 they opened the Perfect Pan, which served as a cooking school that brought in such legendary chefs as Julia Child, Paula Wolfert and working chefs alike.  They offered a prix-fixed lunch menu serving classic French countryside fare daily to sixteen guests.  The school inspired their restaurant, Pirets, which opened in Mission Hills in 1979.  The food was innovative and absolutely everything was fresh.  Pirets became a local culinary institution and legend.  Many current chefs and restaurateurs made their way in the ranks, whether on the line or in the dining room, through the walls of Pirets.  George Munger’s personal and absolute desire to bring quality and fresh ingredients to San Diego and his manifestation of those desires is a true legacy.  We, as chefs owe a great deal of gratitude to him for paving the way and opening San Diego to the fresh bounty that is available to us.  He injected a mindset into the culinary landscape that prior to was not fully there.

I had the personal pleasure of knowing George and cooking for him.  He was a regular guest at my restaurant.  He challenged me, inspired me and made special requests of me sometimes weeks in advance of dining.  We kept a special case of his favorite white burgandy in the walk in for him and I always made time to sit with him and listen to his advice and stories.  His experience, his generosity and his remarkable passion commanded everyone’s attention.  Although San Diego has lost a true culinary hero and visionary, it has gained a bounty of inspiration and credibility thanks to George.  So, thank you George for mentoring so many culinarians, opening our eyes and changing the food landscape of San Diego for good and forever.

Melissa

MARKET TOUR:

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!!

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

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!

Baby White Belly Radish – sweetest radish out there with edible greens too makes these 100% delicious.

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 APRIL 25TH”

Gold Medallion Awards 2009 San Diego


CRA Gold Medallion Awards @ Hilton Bayfront
CRA Gold Medallion Awards @ Hilton Bayfront

Tuesday April 21st, 2009 I had the pleasure of attending the 25th Annual Gold Medallion Awards hosted by the San Diego County Chapter of the California Restaurant Association. It was held at the brand new Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel in downtown San Diego. I spent the first hour trying to cool down from the unseasonal heat, another half hour preoccupied with finding a phone from which I could tweet the results, and the duration of the dinner on twitterberry! My iphone just didn’t do the job – sorry AT&T, but the Sprint Blackberry won out for the night, I still love my phone, but maybe I won’t discredit the others so much in the future!
So, here are unofficial results, if you didn’t follow my @SpecialtyProd tweets!

Associate Member of the Year, Large:

Southern Wine & Spirits
Specialty Produce
U.S. Foodservice, San Diego
Young’s Market Company

Associate Member of the Year, Small:

Bevinco
Cafe Moto
San Diego Magazine

Chef of the Year:

Hanis Cavin, Kensington Grill
Jonathan Hale, Blue Point Coastal Cuisine
Jeff Jackson, A.R. Valentien, The Lodge at Torrey Pines
Paul McCabe, Kitchen 1540, L’Auberge Del Mar
Dean Thomas, Barona Valley Ranch Resort & Casino

Restaurateur of the Year:

Philippe Beltran, Beltran Restaurant Group
Jean-Michel Diot, Tapenade Restaurant
Phil Pace, Phil’s BBQ
Dan Shea, Donovan’s Steak & Chop House
Jeffrey Strauss, Pamplemousse Grill

American

Brian’s American Eatery
Dakota Grill & Spirits
Market Restaurant & Bar

Asian

Mister Tiki Mai Tai Lounge
Saigon on Fifth
Taste of Thai

Bakery/Cafe/Desert

Bread & Cie
Gelato Vero Cafe
St. Tropez Bakery and Bistro

BBQ

Lightning Jack’s
Phil’s BBQ
West Coast BBQ & Catering

Breakfast

Cafe 222
Crest Cafe
Pacifica Breeze Cafe

Best Burger

Corvette Dinner
The Burger Lounge
The Waterfront Bar & Grill

Casino Restaurant

Barona Valley Ranch Resort & Casino
SYCUAN Resort & Casino
Viejas Casino

Caterer

French Gourmet
Premier Food Services/Carriage Trade Catering
Urban Kitchen Catering

Continental/French, Casual

Bleu Boheme
Cafe Chloe
French Market Grille

Continental/French, Fine Dining

Laurel Restaurant & Bar
Mille Fleurs Restaurant
Thee Bungalow

Ethnic

Athens Market Cafe
Cafe Athena
Indigo Grill
Zocalo Grill

Family/Casual Style Chain Restaurant

Cheesecake Factory
Outback
Souplantation

Fine Dining Chain Restaurant

Flemings
King’s Fish House
Ruth’s Chris

Fusion

Parallel 33
Red Pearl Kitchen
Roppongi

Hotel Restaurant, Casual

Firefly at the Dana
Soleil @ K at the Marriott Gaslamp
The Grill At the Lodge

Hotel Restaurant, Fine Dining

1500 Ocean at the Hotel Del Coronado
JRDN Restaurant at Tower 23
Jsix & Jbar at Hotel Solamar

Italian, Casual

Lotsa Pasta
The Venetian Restaurant Inc.
Vigilucci’s Cucina

Italian Fine Dining

Acqua Al 2
Piatti La Jolla
Trattoria Acqua

Mexican Quick Service

El Indio Mexican Restaurant
Nati’s Mexican Restaurant
Roberto’s Mexican

Mexican Dinner House

Cafe Coyote
Casa Guadalajara
Old Town Mexican Cafe

Neighborhood

Kensington Grill
Sbicca
Terra Restaurant & Catering

New American

George’s California Modern
Nine-Ten
Prado at Balboa Park

New, Casual

Alchemy
Apollonia
The MerK

New, Fine Dining

333 Pacific
Cowboy Star
Nico’s Steak and Chop House
Roseville Restaurant

Pacific Rim

Bali Hai Restaurant
Kemo Sabe
Nobu

Pizza

Pizza Nova
Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza
Woodstock’s Pizza

Quick Service Chain Restaurant

Daphne’s Greek Cafe
In-N-Out
Rubios

Seafood, Casual

Anthony’s Fish Grotto
The Brigantine
The Fish Market

Seafood, Fine Dining

Blue Point Coastal Cuisine
Oceanaire Seafood Room
Peohe’s
Top of the Market

Steakhouse Casual

Bully’s East
Butcher Shop & Steakhouse
Gaslamp Strip Club

Steakhouse Fine Dining

Azul La Jolla
Donovan’s

Island Prime

Sunday Brunch

94th Aero Squadron
Hawthorn’s
Tom Ham’s Lighthouse

Sushi

Banbu Sushi
Sushi Bar Blue Fin

Brewery

Ballast Point Brewing Company
Karl Strauss Brewing Company
Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens

Live Music Venue/Restaurant & Lounge

Anthology
Belly Up Tavern
Humphreys By the Bay

Night Club Restaurant & Lounge

Confidential Restaurant
Stingaree

Pub/Bar

Altitude Skybar
The Bitter End
The Field

Sports Restaurant/Bar

Moondoggie’s Pacific Beach
Seau’s the Restaurant
The Fleetwood

Wine Bar

Firefly Grill & Wine Bar
The Cask Room
Wine Vault & Bistro

2009 UT reader’s choice:

Bali Hai