Menu Minuet

Last night we had the opportunity to listen to a food panel discuss the local farmer’s market. Two famous local chefs and two farmers were on the panel. The only Pulitzer price winning food critic in the nation was the moderator. The auditorium only fit 146 people and we got there late. Luckily we found seats, but not next to one another. It was OK bc I really wanted to hear the chefs/farmers talk. At the end of the event, the two chefs even prepared food for us to try! One made a yummy onion tart (bc a certain onion was in season) and the other made a tasty beet salad (btw this is the year where I learned to love beets).

The two local chefs utilized the local farmer’s market for all of their fruits and vegetables in their restaurants. They build relationships with certain farmers. I knew from before that from a cost perspective, you should buy ingredients that are in season. I also learned that you shouldn’t buy/eat tomatoes in February because it’s really hard for them to be at their optimal flavor.

It made me realize, maybe this is why I rarely buy fruit/vegetables when I’m at the commercial grocery stores. Even though the produce is cheap, I was ALWAYS disappointed by the flavor. Especially with fruit, I hate spending my time figuring out which fruit is good to eat and then when I clean/cut it open, it tastes like nothing! Melons have been the most cumbersome. Since coming back from Brazil, I’ve made it a goal to eat more fruits. Because I stay away from certain fruits (like melons, apples and most citrus), I end up buying bananas and clementines. After last night’s panel discussion, I decided I should make more of an effort to go to the farmer’s market to buy different types of fruit. For example, strawberries are at their best right NOW. Which is true, last year when ❤ and I went cycling to the farmer’s market we had the juiciest, sweetest strawberries ever. They were Gaviota strawberries. I reminded ❤ of these strawberries and we both were like yeah we need to get some! Gaviota strawberries are small in size compared to the commercial strawberries. They are a perfect deep shade of red and the aroma is overwhelmingly sweet. The taste matches the way they look and smell. Don’t you hate it when you eat something and it doesn’t taste the way it looks and smells?!

Other things I learned from the panel:
-Great vegetables don’t need much done to them. Just put some olive oil, cracked pepper and salt…crank the oven to a high temperature and you’re golden. We’ve done this with regular broccoli and it’s my favorite way to eat broccoli!
-I want to try Jerusalem Artichokes. One of the farmers said this was a surprise hit.
-The moderator told us the saddest week of the year is when everyone at the farmer’s market starts selling persimmons. That’s when you know summer is over!
-The last peach of summer is known as “last chance” peach. This is around October.
-Cherry tomatoes are one of the few tomatoes that taste decent year-round.
-If you ever feel lost at a farmer’s market, don’t hesitate to ask the farmer about the produce. They love talking about their produce. They’ll even offer you suggestions on how to cook it. Better yet, if you see someone with a big list/clipboard, then you should ask them how to cook it! More likely than not, they are a chef buying ingredients for their restaurant!
-At the farmer’s market, the farmers do not play favoritism (i.e. this produce is for chefs, this produce is for consumers). This is great because you and the chef are getting the same quality ingredients.
-Ask the farmer what new produce they have. Some farms don’t grow the same thing year after year, they’ll mix it up. It’ll be fun to try something new!
-Italian black cabbage. Cabbage gets a bad rep but it has lots of Vitamin C. I’d like to try this Italian black cabbage!
-The apples you buy at commercial super markets are most likely from cold storage! That means you may be eating an apple that has been sitting in storage from months ago! Maybe that’s why I never liked apples from the store????
-You can also ask the farmer which produce will be good in the next few days. For example, if you want to use carrots today versus a few days from now, they will tell you which type of carrot will keep the best! What a useful thought!

States like New York are not as lucky as California in terms of produce. They just don’t get the bountiful selection that California’s weather allows farmers to grow. When I heard the chef say this, I remembered my recent visit to New York’s Prospect Park farmer’s market. It was a lovely spring day. However, I was disappointed by the selection at the farmer’s market! Seriously, it probably had less than 15 different stalls, 8 of which were produce! I need to appreciate my local farmer’s market more!

The only con to a Farmer’s market are the prices. You are paying a little bit more than you would at a commercial market. Because I’ve had so many misses on fruit, I think the price for us to eat quality tasting produce is worth it!

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