On Sunday, more than 40 of the Bay Area’s top chefs will be showcasing summer’s bounty at CUESA’s Summer Celebration. Shopping at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market this week with 25 Lusk’s Executive Chef, Matthew Dolan, who will be a participant this year, it was hard not to get excited about the summer’s bounty. His restaurant’s menu is a reflection of his energy and enthusiasm for seasonality. Much of the menu changes weekly, and sometimes daily, to reflect what his favorite small farms are harvesting.
Georgeanne Brennan is an award-winning cookbook author and regular contributor to food publications both locally and nationally. Her most famous book, A Pig in Provence, tells the story of her move to the French countryside and what she learned there about the importance of seasonality and community food traditions. She has collaborated for many years with her friend and business partner Ann M. Evans, who is the former mayor of Davis, California, and one of the founders of the Davis Farmers Market.
Last week marked the official start of summer, one of our favorite times of years at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Sweet Brentwood corn from G & S Farms, organic blueberries from Sierra Cascade Blueberry Farm, white apricots from Candy Cot Fruit Company and the first field-grown cherry tomatoes from Eatwell Farm were all auspicious indicators that the season is starting off on the right foot. CUESA will be showcasing the bounty of the season at our second annual Summer Celebration on Sunday, July 15th.
Cherry season is in full swing at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and, with new varieties popping up each week but only a handful of weeks left in their short season, now is the time to get your fill. There are over 15 varieties of cherries to try and buy from a dozen different farms. Many of these varieties, like Brooks, Lapin and Rainier, are already available at Paoletti Farm, K & J Orchards and Frog Hollow Farm.
One of my favorite times of the year at the market is when the first cherries of the season show up at the Hamada Farms’ stand, signaling the first stone fruit of the season. This week raspberries will be available at Yerena Farms, and some early varieties of peaches will be on hand from Kashiwase Farms, which returns to market this Saturday.
At the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, chefs and shoppers have been enjoying the height of asparagus season, but it looks like we may only have about six more weeks of it, according to farmer Roscoe Zuckerman. While it’s rare to see a chef at the market without a flat or two of asparagus on their carts, it is toward the last half of the season that they start to load up on the exotic purple variety called Viola, grown at Zuckerman’s Farm.
Chef Adam Dulye was excited to get his hands on fava beans from Star Route Farms at the market this week. Young favas, he told me, are one of the spring vegetables he looks forward to most each year. Since taking over the kitchen of Monk’s Kettle he has used the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market to inspire and guide his menus, which put a seasonal and local spin on classic gastropub fare. In addition to the favas, he also had spring onions, peas, mushrooms, strawberries, English peas and baby carrots on his shopping list this week.
Like many of the chefs who shop the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market each week, Bill Corbett, Executive Pastry Chef of The Absinthe Group, uses the seasons to help shape his creations. This time of year, the market is filled with all the veggies that make savory chefs swoon, however, for a pastry chef, this seemingly bountiful season can be more challenging. Winter citrus is slowly starting to wind down, and there are few fresh fruit options beyond cold-storage apples and pears for chefs like Bill to choose from.
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