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.
Elianna Friedman is no stranger when it comes to the Bay Area food scene. As a program coordinator for the San Francisco Food Bank, she created cooking and nutrition classes for the organization’s low- income participants. At Congregation Beth El in Berkeley, she led classes on food justice and, hunger education and acted as chef and kitchen manager for their family dinner program, “Home for Dinner.” In 2010, she took on the role of Market Director for the New Taste Marketplace, which showcases small local food producers monthly at St. Gregory’s Church in Potrero Hill and is a community fundraising event for the SF Food Pantry.
Two weeks ago one of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market’s founding farmers, Nigel Walker of Eatwell Farms, was diagnosed with a cancer of the blood that has primarily attacked his spine. Nigel has always been a farmer with great tenacity and spirit and even a diagnosis of cancer has not slowed him down. In a letter posted on the Eatwell website last week Nigel said, “I have everything to live for and quite frankly have only just got up to speed. I was asked by a doctor about my mental health, asking if my glass was half full or half empty. My reply was overflowing.
Winter citrus is finally abundant at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and, with new varieties appearing each week, many of the city’s best and brightest chefs will be snapping it up through the winter months. On Saturdays you’ll find them congregating behind the booth at Hamada Farms, waxing poetic about how they’ll be using those Bearss limes or Oro Blanco grapefruits as they wait for farmer Clifford Hamada to fill their orders.
At the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, mushrooms can be found year round at Far West Fungi’s booth. Many of the best varieties are abundant or only available in the cool wet winter months. To showcase mushrooms at their peak chef James Stolich of Cook with James stopped by the CUESA kitchen recently to sample his recipe for Pasta con Fungi Misti.
Shopping locally for the holiday season is easy at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Everything you need from decorations and recipes for your holiday gatherings to gifts for your friends and family can be found each week at the market. Here are some ideas to get you in the spirit:
Christmas Cake- Each one of these seasonal treats from June Taylor is made by hand using fruits from local farms macerated in aged private reserve port from St George Spirits. Enjoyed with tea or a nice glass of sherry, June’s version will put to rest any prejudices you may have against this holiday classic.