This week’s Tuesday market took place on a gorgeous winter day; it was sunny and crisp out and the farmer’s stands were brimming with winter produce. The chefs too were out in abundance picking up ingredients for their menus. I stopped to chat with a few of them to find out what they were shopping for and out how they would feature them.
Mark Sullivan, Executive Chef of Spruce Restaurant, comes to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market weekly to pick up fresh fruit, heirloom vegetables and a little inspiration. Mark’s menu changes seasonally and the smells and tastes at each farmers’ stands are an important part of his creative process. Mark’s kitchen is also supplied with herbs and vegetables from the restaurant’s private farm, SMIP Ranch.
Whether you’re planning festive time with friends or family next week, or just hunkering down for a quiet weekend -- I’m guessing you might also be dreaming of a well-stocked fridge. On Thursday, December 23rd, we’re putting together an extra special pre-holiday market for just this purpose.
Last year when we re-launched the Thursday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market we were hoping to create a place where the tastiest, seasonal ingredients would be available to take home in their raw form and would also be showcased on the menus of our prepared food vendors. Many of these chefs and food artisans were familiar to me as regular market shoppers, supplying their restaurant and commercial kitchens with ingredients from Ferry Plaza farmers each week. This is why brothers Dennis, David and Daniel Lee, the owners and masterminds behind the now highly lauded Namu Restaurant, and devoted farmers market supporters seemed like a perfect fit.
Thomas McNaughton, Chef and Partner at Flour +Water is ready for the end of tomato season. He told me this last Saturday as he wandered through an unusually warm November market with his weekly shopping list. (McNaughton’s menu changes daily, so he looks to the farmers in the market for regular inspiration). While Thomas was buying some of the season’s first Meyer lemons he said he was feeling especially ready for the beginning of the gradual wind down to Winter, with it’s abundance of squashes and root vegetables.
Shopping at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is a family affair for chef Robbie Lewis. After 19 years in the Bay Area restaurant scene, including stints at Boulevard, 42 Degrees, Stars, Rubicon, Jardinière and Bacar, Robbie is now the Executive Chef at Oracle, where he is implementing CSA programs on all their “campuses” and introducing a range of other ideas centered around local and seasonal food. So it’s no wonder that nourishing the two most important people in his life -- son Dante and daughter Marcella - involves bringing them to the farmers market, where they can pick out their own farm fresh ingredients.
Every year around this time the CUESA office is buzzing with excitement as we approach our biggest fundraising event -- the Sunday Supper. This Sunday, October 3rd, marks the eighth time we have asked over 60 of our favorite chefs to create menus using ingredients straight from the markets for a group of dedicated supporters.
Yesterday was the autumn equinox for the Northern Hemisphere, the official beginning of fall. As the daylight hours begin to decrease our farmers are working anxiously in the fields to harvest the last of their summer crops. Over the next few weeks we’ll see tomatoes, basil and peppers alongside shelling beans, persimmons, and pumpkins as the farmers also begin to harvest their first fall crops. With daylight waning pastured egg production will slow on farms like Eatwell and Marin Sun. Autumn will also mean that many of our farmers must begin planting and planning for the winter months.
CUESA's Sunday Supper (which I blogged about yesterday) will feature the talents of scores of local chefs. For the main event—a sit-down, family-style dinner, six chef teams will be cooking a whole beast, which will then be served tableside. Two of the major talents cooking that night are Ryan Farr, owner of 4505 Meats (and creator of the justly famous 'zilla dog) and Taylor Boetticher, owner of the Fatted Calf.