Strange Fruit: The Latest from the Farmers Market


It's an heirloom-tomato-eat-heirloom-tomato world out there at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. SF's resident foodies, not content to settle for something as banal and yesteryear as an Early Girl (unless it's dry-farmed, of course) are always on the lookout for what's new, hot, the latest!

Beyond a small frenzy over Ella Bella's dry-farmed tomatoes (I saw Italian cookbook author Carol Field buying up bagfuls), this is what my trip to the market last Saturday revealed:

• Have you made bread with Eatwell's freshly-milled-onsite Hard Red Winter wheat yet? Let's just say it sold out quickly. Set your wakeup call for 8 am if you want to live out your Little House on the Prairie dream.

The last of it: Three pounds of "expresso" flour before it sold out.

• The Apple Farm—holy grail of apples—always has a lot to choose from, but the tiny Wickson are just so damn cute. I did the taste test though, and Thomas Jefferson and I apparently share a taste for Spitzenberg apples. Crisp, tart-sweet. It was his favorite apple and it's now mine.

Wicksons: The toddlers of apples.

• Over at Heirloom Organics, I spied the Wicksons of corn: Tiny little immature ears that you can peel and eat all the way through, cob and all. (Deep thought: Is this where that creepy "baby corn" comes from at bad Chinese restaurants? Is some poor soul shucking teeny little ears of corn all day before it's then canned and put in a stir-fry?)

If the apples are toddlers, this corn is in its infant stage.

• I don't mean to sound smug, but there's rarely a type of produce that I haven't even heard of, but this one beat me. Although, Jessica says they're called "ground cherries" (clearly she's more knowledgeable than me), Poha, a relative to the tomatillo (which is a relative to the gooseberry, in case you were wondering) is being sold at Tierra Vegetables, a farm known for its great selection of chilies. Part the papery skin, and beneath it is a little, orange cherry tomato-esque thing that smells oddly like coconut and tastes somewhere along the lines of a sweet tomato with a bit of the tropic to it. I could imagine it would make a nice fresh chutney of the Indian style.

A truly strange fruit, also known as the
Cape gooseberry. What do you do with it?

• And finally, although Little Gem lettuce is still the chef's darling, I'm predicting Ella Bella's Deer's Tongue to dethrone it soon. It's got a great name, a mild taste and a cool shape reminiscent, I assume, of a what hunters witness when they shoot a deer. (I myself have yet to see a deer sticking it's tongue out.)

Deer's Tongue: The new Little Gem?

And that is the report. Countdown to the weekend: Get shopping.

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