S.F. Locavores, For Your Labor Day Weekend — Off The Grid & What’s In Season NOW (EATS)

September 2, 2010 § 9 Comments

I thought I’d try something a bit different in this post: highlight a great local food event and the fruits and vegetables in season NOW at farmers’ markets, so you can enjoy a locavore weekend. (If people like this post, I’ll try to do it regularly.)

OFF THE GRID: GET YOUR FOOD TRUCK FIX

As I mentioned in my Eat Real Festival post, you didn’t have to go to Oakland to enjoy the offerings of the Bay Area’s copious food trucks. You can get the goods right here in S.F., every Friday at Fort Mason from 5-9 p.m, at Off The Grid.

The event has confirmed 25 food vendors for tomorrow, including three new ones (TaKorea, Curbside Coffee and Tru Gourmet Dim Sum) and returning vendors such as Chairman Bao, Creme Brulee Cart, Kara’s Kupcakes, and Senor Sisig. You can find the full list on their Facebook page. You’ll hear live music by three different bands, and a bar is available with beer, wine, margaritas (yeah!), mojitos and sangria.

FARMERS’ MARKETS: GET WHAT’S IN SEASON NOW…

…Before it disappears. Here are the best fruits and vegetables in season that I’ve sampled from last Saturday’s farmers’ market in Noe Valley and today’s farmers’ market at the Ferry Building* — plus some tips on how to eat the goods:

Pluots – Get these this Saturday because no more will be left on the trees after that

  • What they are: A pluot is a hybrid of 70% plum and 30% apricot, though they mainly look like plums. They’re very sweet (sweeter flesh and less tart skin than plums), intensely flavored and full of vitamins A and C. See more on varieties below
  • Varieties to buyFlavor Grenade (yellow with a red-orange blush) was very sweet with no tartness in the skin; this was my favorite for eating fresh. Dapple Dandy was a close second, with a slightly tart beginning and end but a sweet middle when you eat it; I’m going to make jam out of these so we can enjoy the taste of summer in January! Flavor King’s skin was a bit too tart for me, but if you love plums, you’ll probably like these

Flavor Grenade pluot, Tory Farms

Dapple Dandy pluot, Tory Farms

Flavor King pluot, Tory Farms

  • Where to buyFerry Building market: Tory Farms (near the Gandhi statue). I got to talk to Tory, the husband in this family-owned farm, who’s been farming for 50 years. He’s a really friendly guy with a grizzly gray beard and an unmatched enthusiasm for his produce. I asked him how he grew such sweet, large pluots (they’re the size of apples), and he says he leaves them on the tree until they’re ripe. They prune the trees so that the fruit ripens in phases — the top is ripe first, then the middle, then the bottom, giving them a few weeks’ worth of market sales out of the trees. When I tasted the Dapple Dandy and said I wanted to make jam, he got out a new box  and helped me pick the best ones, sharing with me the tip that less ripe fruit has more pectin so sets better in jam, whereas riper fruit has less pectin and will make a runnier, but deeper-flavored, jam. I am now a loyal fan of Tory Farms 🙂
  • How to store: Pluots continue to ripen once off the tree. Turn pluots upside down and leave them on the counter, out of the sun. When they reach the desired ripeness, store them unwrapped in the refrigerator up to three days. Tell the folks at the farm stand when you plan to eat them so they can help you choose the ones that will be at their peak at that time
  • How to eat: Out of hand, best at room temperature; make jam (if it turns out well, I’ll share the recipe); make a pluot tart (which I must admit, I’ve never done as I never liked pluots until I found these)

White nectarines – These are only going to be available for the next 2 weeks

  • What they are: I think self-explanatory, but they’re very sweet and best eaten the day of purchase or within 1-2 days
  • Where to buyFerry Building market: Tory Farms (near the Gandhi statue)
  • How to store: Nectarines also continue to ripen once off the tree. Turn nectarines upside down and leave them on the counter, out of the sun. Tell the folks at the farm stand when you plan to eat them so they can help you choose the ones that will be at their peak at that time
  • How to eat: I like them crunchy, eaten out of hand, or cut up in a simple fruit salad — see my “recipe” here

Padron peppers – These may be nearing the end of their season too, so snap them up if you see them

  • What they are: The 2-inch peppers originally from Spain are sweet and nutty, though there’s an occasional hot one

Padron peppers, Happy Boy Farms

  • Where to buyFerry Building market: Happy Quail Farms (which introduced the padron to California in 2001); Noe Valley market: Happy Boy Farms
  • How to store: If you’re eating them the day you buy them, keep them on the counter, and wash them right before you cook them. If you’re not eating them for a couple of days, store them unwashed in the fridge
  • How to eat: Typical preparation: wash and pat dry the padrons, heat oil in a frying pan until smoking, cook the padrons until they’re blistery and brown, then add salt and maybe red pepper (kind of like mini-pepper fries but better). They’re a great snack or “tapas” to eat before your meal. But, my favorite preparation are “kettle padrons” from The Inadvertent Gardener here — sweet, salty, and just plain scrumptious

Kettle padrons: The finished product

Heirloom tomatoes

  • What they are: Heirlooms are considered to be a variety that has been passed down through several family generations because of its valued characteristics. However, due to the popularity of these funky-shaped, wonderfully-hued fruit, there are also commercial heirlooms, open-pollinated varieties that have been in circulation for at least 50 years

Yellow German Fireball from Noe Valley Market, Field of Greens

  • Where to buy: Ferry Building market: Allstar Organics, Balakian Farms, Eatwell Farm, Heirloom OrganicsNoe Valley market: Field of Greens
  • How to store: Tomatoes will continue to ripen but lose flavor if you refrigerate them. Turn them upside down and leave them on the counter, out of the sun. Tell the folks at the farm stand when you plan to eat them so they can help you choose the ones that will be at their peak at that time
  • How to eat: My two favorite ways to eat heirlooms are: (1) caprese salad — slice the tomatoes thickly, top with a thick slice of fresh mozzarella and a basil leaf, then sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with olive oil; (2) tomato salad — chop tomatoes into big chunks and toss with small mozzarella balls and just a drizzle of balsamic vinegar

Grapes

  • What they are: We had these small, yellow-green beauties this past week, and they were very sweet, with tender skins and juicy insides. Unfortunately I didn’t get the variety, so if anyone knows, feel free to comment

Twin Girls Farm grapes

  • Where to buyFerry Building market: Twin Girls FarmNoe Valley market: Twin Girls Farm (Twin Girls is one of my favorite fruit purveyors)
  • How to store: In the fridge, unwashed, in a plastic bag. Wash right before eating
  • How to eat: Out of hand as a snack

Dahlias

  • Why to buy: Even though they’re not edible, they are gorgeous, so you may want to pick up a bunch or two to adorn your home, or as a host/hostess gift if you’re going to a friends’ Labor Day barbecue

Dahlias, Thomas Farm

  • Where to buyFerry Building market: Thomas Farm
  • How to keep: Dahlias will start wilting as soon as they’re out of water, so get them home fairly quickly if you can. Once home, snip off the bottom inch of the stems and put them in 2-3 inches of very hot water (i.e., kitchen faucet turned all the way to hot), which will perk them up and set the blooms so they last for 4-6 days

Enjoy your weekend! And let me know if this was at all helpful.

*Sorry, I haven’t yet had a chance to do reconnaissance on the Alemany farmers’ market, but I will soon!

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