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Market Watch: This Week's Cream of the Crop

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.

There’s more than one good reason to shop at Swanton Berry Farm. Not only was Swanton the first certified organic strawberry farm in California, but founder Jim Cochran has also taken a forward thinking approach to supporting his workers. The farm has had a union contract with the United Farm Workers of America since 1998 and now has a profit sharing model in which several of the farm’s workers are also co-owners. While the farm is well known for their wonderful berries, they also grow some high quality vegetables. Lately I’ve been a fan of their tasty Globe artichokes.

The Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese stand sells big crumbly chunks of their wonderfully creamy blue cheese made on the Giacomini farm in Point Reyes Station. Owner Bob Giacomini, his wife Dean and their four daughters are the heart and soul of the family business behind their Original Blue, as well as blue cheese dressing and dip. The family’s closed herd of Holstein cows graze on organic pasture overlooking Tomales Bay and the cheese is made daily then allowed to age for six months before it’s ready for market. Bob likes to say that his cheese is a combination of three very important ingredients—good milk, coastal fog, and salty pacific breeze.

Beautiful spring onion bulbs are popping up all over the market. This week Star Route Farms from Bolinas had bunches of their fresh cipollinis for sale. This Italian onion variety has a marvelous sweet flavor with less bitterness than other onions and holds its shape well when cooked. I love them roasted, braised or pickled and use them every chance I get when they are tender and young.

Fragrant signs of spring are everywhere. This week, tucked in among the vegetables at Eatwell Farms, I found several bunches of sprightly herbs such as lemon balm, oregano and rosemary. They’re good for much more than just garnishes; I use them in salad dressings, tea, and as a whimsical addition to homemade ice cream!

On Saturdays, the crowds line up early to get their hands on delicious pastries from the Healdsburg-based Downtown Bakery and Creamery. Our farmers’ market staff are huge fans of their fruit turnovers—they’re incredible. Last Saturday, they were filled with strawberry-rhubarb and cherry-apricot, and sprinkled with a light dusting of cinnamon sugar.