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Market Watch: Pepperoncini, Bronx Grapes and a Farm Tour

If you’ve never tried Bronx grapes your chance has finally arrived. With a deep-rosy hue, this rare variety is a cross between the Thompson and the Black Concord. They have a very delicate skin which makes them difficult to ship or store, so you’ll only find them at the farmers’ market. Farmer John Lagier is one of only two growers in Northern California to cultivate this endangered seedless grape and the Bronx is only available now through early September at the Lagier Ranches stand on Thursdays and Saturdays. 

I am a huge fan of pepperoncini peppers, so I was excited to see fresh ones this week at the Tierra Vegetables stand. Most often these peppers are found preserved in jars at your local grocery store, but fresh pepperoncini can be used to flavor tomato sauces or seafood dishes and fried as you would with Friarello’s or Padrones. Tierra’s pepperoncini are an Italian variety that have a mild to medium heat and they’re perfect for experimenting with in your own homemade pickling recipes.

Sweet and candy-like, the Sun Gold Cherry tomatoes at Eatwell Farms this week were positively addictive. These darlings of the cherry tomato world make a lovely gazpacho and are wonderful in salads and pasta dishes. They ‘re also perfect all on their own so it only makes sense that they are often referred to as the “ultimate snacking tomato."

Massa Organics is well known for their delicious organic brown rice but they should also be lauded for their rich and creamy almond butter. Lately, my favorite breakfast has been toast covered with almond butter and ollalie berry jam from Swanton Berry Farm. Heart healthy and nutrient dense almond butter also makes a great afternoon snack when spread on late summer apples and tastes terrific in any recipe calling for peanut butter. 

On Friday September 11th, you can take a tour with CUESA and learn about two distinctly Californian tree crops: almonds and olives. The first stop will be at G.L. Alfieri Farms in Ripon, where farmer Gary Alfieri will show us around his almond orchard and diverse table grape vineyard, and take us to the shelling plant that processes his almonds. Our next stop will be at Sciabica and Sons in Modesto, where we'll meet with two generations dedicated to bringing extra virgin olive oil to market and visit the orchard where the olives are ripening on the trees. The bus tour includes lunch made with seasonal ingredients by CUESA’s market chef-- all for only $25! You better hurry though, tickets are going fast.