If you’re going to celebrate the wonders of local citrus, now is the time to do it. Many varieties are at the peak of ripeness and others should be nabbed now before their seasons wind to a close. Winter may be slowly succumbing to spring (and the berries that come with it), but right now it’s hard to turn a corner without running into a tangy, sweet example of this cold weather favorite.
California ranks second only to Florida in citrus production and at the Ferry Plaza alone there are more than 15 farms bringing the fruits to market each year.
After eight years at Boulevard Restaurant working with Nancy Oakes and Pam Mazzola, chef Ravi Kapur opened Prospect last summer to almost instant fanfare. In the seven months since Prospect opened its doors the restaurant has seen its share of seasonal menu changes. It has effortlessly transitioned from summer to fall and now is in the midst of highlighting the best of winter produce.
Chef Jason Fox has been shopping at the market since his days as Executive chef at Bar Tartine. Late last summer he opened Commonwealth with partner and Mission Street Food co-founder, Anthony Myint and is once again supplying his kitchen with seasonal fruits and vegetables from the farmers at the Ferry Plaza.
Choosing what to have for lunch at the Thursday market is always one of the hardest decisions of the week for me. The vendors at the market are so creative and the seasonal specials always so enticing that in the year and a half since we re-launched the market, I’ve rarely eaten the same thing twice.
This week’s Tuesday market took place on a gorgeous winter day; it was sunny and crisp out and the farmer’s stands were brimming with winter produce. The chefs too were out in abundance picking up ingredients for their menus. I stopped to chat with a few of them to find out what they were shopping for and out how they would feature them.
Mark Sullivan, Executive Chef of Spruce Restaurant, comes to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market weekly to pick up fresh fruit, heirloom vegetables and a little inspiration. Mark’s menu changes seasonally and the smells and tastes at each farmers’ stands are an important part of his creative process. Mark’s kitchen is also supplied with herbs and vegetables from the restaurant’s private farm, SMIP Ranch.
Whether you’re planning festive time with friends or family next week, or just hunkering down for a quiet weekend -- I’m guessing you might also be dreaming of a well-stocked fridge. On Thursday, December 23rd, we’re putting together an extra special pre-holiday market for just this purpose.
Last year when we re-launched the Thursday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market we were hoping to create a place where the tastiest, seasonal ingredients would be available to take home in their raw form and would also be showcased on the menus of our prepared food vendors. Many of these chefs and food artisans were familiar to me as regular market shoppers, supplying their restaurant and commercial kitchens with ingredients from Ferry Plaza farmers each week. This is why brothers Dennis, David and Daniel Lee, the owners and masterminds behind the now highly lauded Namu Restaurant, and devoted farmers market supporters seemed like a perfect fit.
Thomas McNaughton, Chef and Partner at Flour +Water is ready for the end of tomato season. He told me this last Saturday as he wandered through an unusually warm November market with his weekly shopping list. (McNaughton’s menu changes daily, so he looks to the farmers in the market for regular inspiration). While Thomas was buying some of the season’s first Meyer lemons he said he was feeling especially ready for the beginning of the gradual wind down to Winter, with it’s abundance of squashes and root vegetables.
Shopping at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is a family affair for chef Robbie Lewis. After 19 years in the Bay Area restaurant scene, including stints at Boulevard, 42 Degrees, Stars, Rubicon, Jardinière and Bacar, Robbie is now the Executive Chef at Oracle, where he is implementing CSA programs on all their “campuses” and introducing a range of other ideas centered around local and seasonal food. So it’s no wonder that nourishing the two most important people in his life -- son Dante and daughter Marcella - involves bringing them to the farmers market, where they can pick out their own farm fresh ingredients.
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