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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.

Every spring, Bodega and Yerba Santa Goat Cheese owner Javier Salmon returns to market with a Peruvian specialty known as Natilla. This heavenly caramel sauce is made by Javier’s father, Jaime, who combines goat’s milk with molasses and brown sugar. Richer with caramel flavor than a dulce de leche, it tastes great drizzled over ice cream or strawberries or spread on sliced apples.

Known for their beautiful flowering branches and fantastic array of fresh herbs, White Crane Springs Ranch is also famous for a special secret salad mix that farmer Joseph Minocchi calls his “wild and herbal mesclun” (which includes miner’s lettuce, chervil, mint, cress and purslane). The mesclun is grown using a holistic, time-intensive approach that results in vibrant, intensely flavored greens. But you won’t see it on display. Instead he keeps it tucked in a cooler behind the booth. Shoppers in the know ask for “the mix.”

It’s hard not to fall in love with Della Fattoria’s rustic breads and delectable pastries. One of my favorites is their Meyer lemon and rosemary campagne. This lovely loaf— made by adding a slurry of Meyer lemon zest, rosemary and olive oil to the top of the crust—is fragrant, rich with olive oil and perfect all on its own. Leftovers, should you have any, make good croutons or a terrific bread salad.

Every week from March through November, Mike and Sally Hiebert of Cap’n Mike’s Holy Smoke set up a sandwich booth adjacent to their smoked fish stand and make San Francisco-style lox sandwiches to order. Each open faced sandwich starts with Acme sourdough slathered with Sally’s own homemade cream cheese—then they’re piled high with one of four types of smoked fish and garnished with seasonal and pickled items from the market. This week, I had the Northwest-style red lox sandwich topped with fennel, pickled onions, roasted red peppers and a sprinkling of lavender sea salt from Eatwell Farms. It was the perfect way to kick off a busy Saturday at the market.

Balakian Farms returns this week with Stockton red onions and a few early summ er squash varieties. The Stockton red onion—a regional favorite of growers in the Central Valley—is a large onion with a pinkish red outer skin and a white core. The onion has a sweet flavor that tastes great sliced in a salad, marinated and grilled, or piled on top of a burger.