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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. Every week, she'll be giving us her short list for the Saturday market. Go to cuesa.org for more information about farmers, what's in season and market goings-on.

I found smoked and dried sweet onions at Tierra Vegetables this week and asked farmer Lee James to tell me more about them. At Lee’s farm the Spanish onions are sliced and smoked over rosemary and wood so that they impart a subtle smoky flavor when added to soups, pots of beans, and salads. Apparently San Francisco Symphony director Michael Tilson Thomas is such a big fan of Tierra’s onions that he often finishes a bag of them off before leaving the booth!

Rhubarb—strawberry’s best friend— will be returning next Saturday from Happy Quail Farms. Farmer David Winsberg is well known for the wide range of peppers he grows on his urban farm in East Palo Alto. Come spring however, his booth is always stacked high with rhubarb through early summer.

Petaluma-based Andante Dairy handcrafts some of the best cheese around. Soyoung Scanlan, the owner and sole cheese maker, uses cow’s milk from local farms, sheep’s milk from Wisconsin and goat’s milk from Volpi Ranch—the farm where her facility is located—to make her exquisite cheeses. Take Andante’s seasonal pecorino: This nutty, perfectly salty sheep’s milk cheese is aged for two years before it appears at our market.

Farmer Jesse Kuhn of Marin Roots Farm in Petaluma grows a wide array of unusual greens, lettuces and root vegetables on land adjacent to the goat ranch where Andante makes their cheese. On Saturday, among the other baskets of braising greens, Jesse had a large basket of vibrant purple and yellow flowering kale rapini. With a mild flavor reminiscent of broccoli, the little flowering stalks would be perfect sautéed with green garlic and sprinkled with Tierra’s smoked onions.

I get excited when fava beans return to the market and I was happy to see the Knoll Farms crew piling baskets full of the tender green pods last Saturday. My favorite preparation for fava beans is simple— blanch them, drizzle with olive oil and top with a nutty cheese, such as the pecorino from Andante.