One of the best ways to get inspired at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is to check out what foods our loyal chefs are piling on their carts. It’s even better when those chefs tell you more about what caught their eyes this week and what they plan to do with it. At the Saturday market, I noticed a particularly interesting chef cart being pushed by Outerlands owner Dave Muller and Chef Brett Cooper. The pair had been tooling around the market, catching up with industry friends and looking for seasonal goodies to incorporate on Brett’s refined and elegantly casual spring menu. As they were getting ready to load out for the day, I caught up with them to find out more about what was on their cart.
At Zuckerman’s Farm, the duo excitedly snapped up purple asparagus, a variety known for being exceptionally sweet and tender. “We’re going to shave it raw to add crunch to a new salad I’m putting on the menu,” Brett told me. “The rich purple adds a nice flash of color.” Green asparagus from Zuckerman’s would also be used in the salad, along with avocados from Brokaw Nursery, sprouted nuts, green garlic and house-preserved Meyer lemons.
A stop at Dirty Girl Produce inspired Brett to pick up baby scallions, baby cabbage and cauliflower. The tender young scallions would be charred and incorporated into a slow-roasted lamb chop dish. The cabbage would be lightly pickled and served on a spicy tomato and pork sandwich for the Outerlands lunch menu, while the cauliflower would be spiced with curry and paired with a soft-cooked farm egg, braised onions, hedgehog mushrooms from Far West Fungi and shaved Parmesan.
After Dirty Girl, Brett and Dave were on to Heirloom Organic Gardens, where they stocked up on baby Lacinato and Red Russian kale and Chioggia beets, which would be used in a salad with some colorful carrots they had scored at County Line Harvest.
What’s making Brett most happy about spring at the market? “I’m really excited about all the delicate leafy greens, fresh herbs, and rabes,” Brett told me. “I’m also really happy to see strawberries return. I’m just trying to enjoy all that we have right now before it fades into stone fruit season.”