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.
This month, the CUESA staff is gearing up to kick off our new fundraising event, The Summer Celebration, on Sunday July 10th. The event will be a labor of love for many of the chefs who will participate and Staffan Terje of Perbacco and Barbacco eno Trattoria is no exception. Staffan is one of five chefs who have generously agreed to sit on the planning committee for the event.
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.