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Market Watch: Beets, Lemon Cucumbers and Candycots

If anyone has the inside scoop 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.

Last week marked the seasonal return of Green Gulch Farms to the Saturday market. Green Gulch Farm and Zen Center is a wonderfully peaceful oasis located in the hills of Marin near Muir Woods. The five acre farm, run by farm manager Sara Tashker—along with the help of farm apprentices, a small staff and the residents of Green Gulch—grows a magnificent variety of greens, chicories, flowers, apples, potatoes and much more. I adore their bright bunches of beets as much for the beet green tops as for the beets themselves. Green Gulch will be in the market every week from now until mid October.

Nestled among the cherries, nectarines and plums this week at Hamada Farms booth this week I saw the first of the season’s lemon cucumbers. This mild and sweet heirloom variety (the name is a reference to its yellow color and round shape) is less bitter than other cucumbers and is as versatile as it is tasty. I adore lemon cucumbers for pickling and as a key ingredient to my favorite summer sandwich: red onion, tomato and lemon cucumber with a sprinkle of lavender salt on a crusty piece of Acme bread.

CandyCot Fruit Co.
, of Waterford returns this week for a limited time with their ridiculously sweet Candycot apricots. John Driver, a plant breeder who also works as an international agricultural consultant, and his brother Bob have developed this variety of apricot; it has nearly double the sweetness of other varieties. John, who has spent time in Central Asia working with apricot growers, acquired seeds to test and trial on his own family’s farm. The result of these trials is fruit with smooth yellow flesh and an intense honey flavor that sets the candycot apart from all other apricots.

Todd Champagne and his wife Jordan are always experimenting with the best seasonal ingredients for their pickles, preserves and juices and their business, Happy Girl Kitchen in Aromas, uses fruit and vegetables from neighboring farms as inspiration. When the weather heats up they have been known to whip up a batch of their thirst quenching hibiscus lavender lemonade. Todd promises me that Happy Girl will have the lemonade, a personal favorite of mine, for sale at their stand starting this week.

A couple of weeks ago I bought a fantastic piece of smoked Steelhead trout at the Cap’n Mike’s Holy Smoke booth to serve to some friends I had coming over for brunch. The beautiful pink filet had a milder and subtler flavor than a traditional smoked salmon and was a big hit with my guests. In addition to seasonally available Steelhead, the Captain and his wife Sally, also have smoked Sturgeon, Sable, Albacore tuna, oysters and of course, salmon too.