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.
Phil West, executive chef and owner of Range shopped the market this week with his pastry chef, Michelle Polzine, in tow. When I caught up with the duo they were gathering up the last remnants of spring, thinking ahead towards incorporating a little early summer on their respective menus and sampling cherries at Frog Hollow Farms.
Berries are back in a big way. To celebrate these tart/sweet seasonal favorites CUESA has a whole month of berry-related events planned. We’ll kick off the series with our annual Berry Festival on Saturday, June 18, featuring a tasting booth for tayberries, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. We’ll also have information about growing your own berry crop and berry-centric chef demos from Trace Leighton and Daniel Clayton of the soon-to-open Origen: A Farm to Fork Restaurant.
As it turns out, berries aren’t bad for cocktail making either. After the Berry Festival wraps up on the June 18th, the CUESA kitchen will be transformed into a cocktail lab for our next D.I.Y. Cocktail Class.
Forecast: June at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is predicted to be delicious. Blueberries, my favorite seasonal treat, have made their return. Pastured eggs, bright bunches of dahlias, sweet snap peas and ripe strawberries are already in abundance. On Thursdays, the first summer squash, peppers and early field grown tomatoes will be joining us before the month’s end from the folks at Lucero Organics, Everything Under the Sun and Catalan Farms. Stone fruit, delayed by erratic spring weather, should return by mid month from Tory Farms.
Chanan Kamen, executive chef at Osteria Coppa in San Mateo takes a drive into the city each Saturday to pick up ingredients from some of his favorite farmers at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. His regular stops include Knoll Farms, Star Route Farm and County Line Harvest. When he leaves the market his car is usually packed to the brim and this week was no exception.
In January David Bazirgan took on the role of Executive Chef at Fifth Floor Restaurant. Almost instantly he earned rave reviews for his reinterpretation of the menu at this iconic restaurant. David was recently voted one of the hunkiest chefs in San Francisco, but it’s his talent and dedication to his craft that make him truly one to watch.
May is just around the corner and we’re already excited about what’s in store here at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. While we have been knee deep in spring tonic greens, asparagus and strawberries for the past month the first signs of late spring and early summer are already staring to appear.
Chef Brett Cooper has spent the last several years working his way through some of the best restaurant kitchens in San Francisco. With stints at Rubicon, Coi, and Saison under his belt, Cooper has taken on the task of gently refining the menu at Outerlands, in the Sunset District. “It’s a really big transition, from fine dining,” he says, “but it gives me a chance to be in a really positive environment with great people and an ability to experiment with healthier menu items. We’re sticking with the same style of service and cooking that Outerlands is known for and just elevating that a little,” he told me last Saturday.
There’s probably nothing I love more than asparagus season. And from the look of the carts I’ve seen chefs pushing around the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market this week, I’m not alone. One chef in particular, Mark Dommen of One Market Restaurant, stopped by the market on Tuesday to pick up asparagus for his kitchen and tell me about some of his favorite preparation techniques.