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Market Watch: The Herb Celebration Comes to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

Basil Farmers Market

One of my favorite things about being at the market in the wee hours of the morning is the mouthwatering smells you encounter as the farmers unload their goods. In the summer months, it’s the intoxicating aroma of basil that steals the show.

Pesto is one of the first things that come to mind when thinking about ways to use basil, but there are so many more ways to work it into your meals. As part of CUESA’s month-long Herb Celebration at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, we’ll welcome Franklin Liao and Francis Ang from Fifth Floor Restaurant on Saturday, July 27, to show us some of their favorite ways to make the most of basil in the summer months.

While Francis is the mastermind behind Fifth Floor’s pastry menu, Franklin works with Executive Chef David Bazirgan and Chef de Cuisine Nicolai Lipscomb as sous chef to create dishes that make the most of seasonal fruits and veggies for the restaurant’s savory side. On Saturday, the two will talk about the many types of basil found at the market and how their flavor profiles vary. The duo will also demonstrate three recipes that pair basil with some other summer treats like watermelon, tomatoes and strawberries.

Other summery herbs that tickle their fancies include savory, thyme, lemon verbena and cilantro. “Cilantro is my absolute favorite herb,” Francis told me. “I candy the leaves and stems for garnishes and use it in desserts quite a bit. The flavor really gives things a clean and refreshing pop.” Francis has just launched a dessert tasting menu at Fifth Floor, and Franklin says that in the month of August we can expect that stone fruit, pole and shelling beans, wild King salmon, cucumbers and tomatoes will play a starring role on his side of the menu.

Stop by the CUESA Classroom this Saturday to check out Franklin and Francis in action at 11 am. All cooking demos are free and open to the public, with recipes and samples for all. For more ideas about how to use basil, check out the recipe archive on the CUESA website.