At the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, chefs and shoppers have been enjoying the height of asparagus season, but it looks like we may only have about six more weeks of it, according to farmer Roscoe Zuckerman. While it’s rare to see a chef at the market without a flat or two of asparagus on their carts, it is toward the last half of the season that they start to load up on the exotic purple variety called Viola, grown at Zuckerman’s Farm.
Chef Adam Dulye was excited to get his hands on fava beans from Star Route Farms at the market this week. Young favas, he told me, are one of the spring vegetables he looks forward to most each year. Since taking over the kitchen of Monk’s Kettle he has used the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market to inspire and guide his menus, which put a seasonal and local spin on classic gastropub fare. In addition to the favas, he also had spring onions, peas, mushrooms, strawberries, English peas and baby carrots on his shopping list this week.
Like many of the chefs who shop the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market each week, Bill Corbett, Executive Pastry Chef of The Absinthe Group, uses the seasons to help shape his creations. This time of year, the market is filled with all the veggies that make savory chefs swoon, however, for a pastry chef, this seemingly bountiful season can be more challenging. Winter citrus is slowly starting to wind down, and there are few fresh fruit options beyond cold-storage apples and pears for chefs like Bill to choose from.
Allison Mountford, executive chef and owner of Square Meals, and Sarah Henkin, her new operations director, were at the Thursday market recently to shop for ingredients for their weekly changing menu. Allison started Square Meals shortly after graduating from culinary school in 2006 and the business has since grown from a private chef service to a brick-and-mortar establishment in Polk Gulch, which opened last December.
If you’ve ever dreamed of running off to France, Italy or even West Marin to try your hand at cheese making, we have just the thing for you. On April 17, CUESA will once again partner with Urban Kitchen SF for the second in a three-part workshop series focused on cheese. April’s class will be led by Louella Hill, aka “The Milk Maid,” who will guide us through the ins and outs of making French-style Crottin and Tomino.
Spring officially starts next week, but with a mild winter, some of our favorite seasonal veggies have already started making an appearance at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. From the first stalks of bright green asparagus filling up the chef carts to the much-anticipated return of Knoll Farms’ pea shoots, radish greens and green garlic, it feels like a seasonal change is already underway.
Joel Baecker and Naomi Crawford having been cooking up Neapolitan style pizzas out of their mobile wood-fired pizza oven since 2006. Their business, Pizza Politana, can be found at local farmers markets (including the Tuesday and Thursday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market) street food events and community gatherings. Pizza Politana’s weekly menu includes a simple yet delicious margherita made with a raw San Marzano tomato sauce, a weekly market-inspired pizza, and other rotating offerings.
In the winter months Will Brokaw of Brokaw Nursery supplies shoppers at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market with subtropical fruits like cherimoya, guava and citrus. However, his stand is most recognized for the avocados grown on his family ranches in Santa Paula and Soledad, and this week they make a welcome return to market after a late-winter seasonal hiatus.
Tacolicious got its start as a pop-up stand serving a small selection of tacos, house-made salsas and agua frescas at the very first Thursday market in July of 2009. The menu featured whatever the Tacolicious crew was inspired by at the farmers market that surrounded them. Within six months, owner Joe Hargrave realized that Tacolicious was a hit and closed the doors of his Spanish-themed restaurant, Laiola, in the Marina to make way for a brick-and-mortar home for Tacolicious. He brought on Chef Antelmo Faria to help him create a more expanded menu for the new restaurant.
As the weather gets colder and temperatures reach near freezing, only the hardiest fruits and vegetables can survive on the winter farm. One of the most cold-tolerant of all plant groups is the Brassica family. These cruciferous crops are plentiful now at the Ferry Plaza markets and are favorites of many of the chefs who shop there.