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Market Watch: Avos, Pawpaws and a Year's Worth of Free Dinners

If anyone has the inside sccop when it comes to the Ferry Plaza Farmers market it's Lulu Meyer, associate director of market operations at CUESA. You'll see her at the market, rain or shine. Every week, she'll be giving us her short list for the market—just in time for Saturday shopping. Go to cuesa.org for more information about farmers, what's in season and market goings-on.

How would you like to dine for free at a fantastic Bay Area restaurant every month for the next year? Each October at CUESA’s annual Sunday Supper fundraiser, four lucky winners get a packet of gift certificates good for 12 dinners for two. For the next few weeks stop by the CUESA info booth on any market day to purchase tickets for our annual ‘Year of Dining Out’ raffle. This year’s packages include gift certificates to NOPA, Chez Panisse, Perbacco, Range and many more. We’ll announce the winners at the Sunday Supper on October 4th and though you don’t need to be present to win the annual Sunday Supper is an event you won’t want to miss!

Saturday will be the last day for Brokaw Nursery and after that their perfectly delicious avocados will be out of the market for the season. Will Brokaw and his family grow Hass and Gwen varieties on their land in Santa Paula along with a few types of citrus, cherimoyas and sometimes even tree-ripened mangoes. Since the harvest is over we’ll have to wait until February for the next batch of his fabulous avocados. If you’re at the market on Saturday be sure to come by Brokaw’s stand to get the last of this year’s bounty and check back in December when Will returns with his juicy Pixie mandarins.

Sometimes referred to as a custard apple or Prairie banana, the Pawpaw is a tree fruit with a creamy texture and succulent tropical flavor. Pawpaw’s were once a common fruit but faced near extinction until a few farmers like Ferry Plaza’s very own John Lagier of Lagier Ranches began growing them again for direct marketing. Their short season and delicate nature make them almost impossible to ship and store but for a few weeks each year you can visit the Lagier Ranches stand to learn more and try them for yourself.

On Saturday, I happened upon an old English apple variety called Ashmeads Kernel at the Devoto Gardens stand and fell in love. This small green apple with mottled russet spots may not be the prettiest but it is pretty tasty. The flesh is dense and sugary with a tart crisp finish reminiscent of pear. It might make a wonderful cider as farmer Stan Devoto suggested, but I prefer to eat my stash all on their own.

This week at the Four Sisters Farm stand one of the lovely baskets of baby greens held bunches of one of my favorites: Erbette chard. Erbette chard is a mild Italian variety with the same earthy flavor but less bitterness than its other chard relatives. When harvested young the leaves are tender enough to eat raw in salads but it is at its best lightly braised and tossed with fresh garlic and a bit of aged goat cheese such as the Capricious from Achadinha.