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Market Watch: Looking Forward to Spring with Chef Yoni Levy

Yoni Levy at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Photo by Lulu Meyer

Though it's only been open for a couple of months, Alta CA, the latest addition to the Daniel Patterson Group of restaurants, seems to have hit its stride. Executive Chef Yoni Levy stopped by the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market to tell me about what he and his crew have been up to and what he is most looking forward to as spring approaches.

While you’ll still see winter stalwarts like roots and citrus on the Alta menu, there are also hints of spring, with baby turnips, radishes and artichokes starting to make appearances. Like most Bay Area chefs right now, Yoni is naturally excited about the return of asparagus, but he is most eager for the return of delicate spring greens and bright herbs.

When he comes down to the market, Yoni usually checks out what’s on offer at Hamada Farms, Star Route Farms and K & J Orchards but also makes time to visit to Heirloom Organic Gardens’ stand. “I just love all their little baby greens,” he said.

At the Four Sisters Farm stall this month you’ll find baby bunches of Erbette chard, sorrel and purple frill mustard greens— a favorite of Yoni’s. “I toss the raw mustard leaves in a bowl with some garlic and lemon juice and add seared squid to the top to lightly wilt them,” he told me. Another of his favorites is mizuna, which is also in the mustard green family and has a bright and pleasant spiciness that can be enjoyed in salads or tossed into pastas and risotto.

“It was winter when we opened and our menu was set up with what was seasonally and locally available in mind at that time, so that we wouldn’t have to change it too much until we got our systems in place,” Yoni told me. “Now that the restaurant is running smoothly, we are looking forward to changing the menu up more often.”

Want more info about what greens are in season now, what to do with them and what to look forward to this spring? Check out the CUESA website. For market updates and seasonal tips, follow Lulu Meyer @farmersmarketlu or check out @CUESA on Twitter.