This past Saturday at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market the tomato deals were ripe for the pickin’. With the official change this week from summer to fall it may only be a matter of weeks before tomatoes wind down completely. Farmer Joe Schirmer of Dirty Girl Produce tells me he is hoping to have his famous Early Girls well into November and Bill Crepps of Everything Under the Sun says he plans to harvest another crop of San Marzanos in the next few weeks, but both also cautioned that with the wacky weather this year, and predictions for a cooler fall, you just never know.
The shelves of my kitchen pantry are stacked high with the cookbook collection I began amassing over 12 years ago. Many of these books are dog eared, stained and regularly consulted. Others, though rarely used or thumbed through, have earned their home because of the sentimental value they have for my husband and I. Some of my favorite books in this collection are written by folks I see regularly at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, like Chad Robertson (Tartine Bread), Heidi Swanson (Super Natural
Cooking) and Joyce Goldstein (The Mediterranean Cookbook).
Chef Bruce Hill is a busy man. Despite juggling four restaurants he has agreed to once again act as Event Chair for CUESA’s 9th annual Sunday Supper. He’ll be in good company on October 2nd alongside heavy hitters like Melissa Perello of Frances, Ravi Kapur of Prospect and Michael Tusk of Quince as he generously gives his time and effort to help support CUESA, the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and our educational programs. Bruce’s Larkspur based restaurant Picco, will also be represented at the dinner with a course of mesquite grilled calamari, herbed shelling beans and a roasted pepper relish prepared by Picco’s Chef de Cuisine Jared Rodgers.
Last Saturday I had the pleasure to shop the market with one of my culinary heroes, Joyce Goldstein. In her long and impressive career, Joyce has written over twenty five cook books, helmed the kitchens at Chez Panisse Café and Square One, been awarded numerous times by the James Beard Foundation and is a founding member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs. She also counts chefs like Staffan Terje of Perbacco and Mourad Lahlou of Aziza, with whom she has a standing weekly lunch date, as personal friends.
Despite its slow and bumpy start, the summer season is going strong. The dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes are finally available from Dirty Girl Produce, the Gravensteins and other early summer apple varieties have arrived at Devoto Gardens, and Happy Quail Farms has its signature piles of colorful peppers. Summer is finally in full swing.
Adam Dulye moved to San Francisco from Colorado last January to take over the role of Executive chef at Monk’s Kettle. His first stop when he arrived on the scene was the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market to check out the fine produce he would now have at his disposal each week. For the past eight months Adam has made the market part of his weekly routine and told me recently that he has enjoyed watching the seasons change but is now anxiously looking forward to the transition into late summer and early fall.
With all the beautiful produce at the market this season I am finding it hard to resist any of it. Cucumbers, pole beans, tomatoes, nectarines all seem to call my name when I walk through the market and consequently I often find myself at home with more than I know what to do with. My husband, being a true aficionado of all things pickled, has begun to help me with my overbuying problem by putting up some of these goodies to save for later in the season when their fresh counterparts will no longer be available.
Greg Dunmore has been sourcing ingredients from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market since his days as chef at Ame. At his recently opened restaurant, Nojo, in Hayes Valley, the menu is a playful interpretation of traditional Japanese food that showcases the seasonal produce from Greg’s favorite farms.
It’s become a tradition for us to mark the return of tomato season with a tomato-centric recipe and cooking demonstration from local chef Joanne Weir. Joanne was here in the CUESA kitchen last Saturday to teach us a simple and delicious dish using the first field grown tomatoes of the season for the third year in a row. This time around she demonstrated her recipe for a BLT salad and shared stories with us about the origin of her love of tomatoes.
Summer is officially here. For the first time in a long while the temperatures in the city seem to match the season. The weather is also heating up in the Central Valley and other California farming regions, meaning the fruit is ripening and the Ferry Plaza is filling up with all the foods that make summer so satisfying. The chefs were out in abundance this week snapping up their favorite summer veggies and looking ahead to what’s to come.