Coastside Farmers’ Market field notes, Sept 2
What a lovely day. I am enjoying the sunshine in a post-lunch reverie that involved someone else’s tomatoes. Good news is that is was so tasty and delightful that I am now back in the good graces of an unintentionally neglected associate, and, as a bonus, recovered in heart and spirit from the dismal duty of ripping out every single tomato plant I had in my garden. To a stem, they all succumbed to black blight, a common peril of this past long and wet season. I am not quite prepared to call it summer.
Tomato growing on the coast is an act of faith and hopeless optimism. I attempt it every year. And every year about this time, as I rip out the black-stemmed stragglers, I get a deeper level of respect for the truly talented farmers on the coast who are more successful at this endeavor than I seem to be. Happily, there are a few dedicated sorts who have found varieties that can thrive here, or ways to coax, cajole or harass the Black Prince Stupice into something resembling compliance with its genetic imperative to go forth and be fruitful.
Tomatoes this year need some help, and/or neglect, depending on how you look at it. The best tomatoes are dry-farmed heirlooms, where the plants are not watered after they have blossomed and set fruit. As the heat rises the tomatoes’ flavors concentrate into a nearly unbearable delish-ess-ness. But, dry-farming tomatoes this year has been a non-starter, and the late rains mean that while they are heavy and pretty, that intense ‘mater-ness is missing. So, I took a pile of fat, baby-bottom sized ones, cut them in half and stuck them in the oven at 250º with the door cracked a bit for the night. In the morning, they were pretty funny looking, I admit, but when I cut them into smaller pieces, sauteed them with some shallots and onions, julienned fennel and dill weed, flashed them off the pan with a shot of James Blond, and piled the whole delightful mess onto a thick chunk of sourdough, they were transformed into a tomatoey bruschetta o’ beauty. Shave a shard or two of Broncha over the top, serve with a side order o’ Dino-tongue salad ( that’s right , Big Steve, its all about the kale) and a bowl full of berries and juicy chunks of peach later, and that’s one lovely lunch that does a heart good.
Next, I am going to attempt a tomato & shallot jam to complement some juicy local chop. Or maybe I’ll just compliment a juicy local chop myself and see if I can get arrested. I don’t know why I said that, but I do know that we now have grass-fed and finished beef, lamb and pastured pork from right here on the coast at the Half Moon Bay location for the rest of the season, and just the thought of it makes me feel somewhat, well, illicit. And very, very fortunate.
Onward: This week at the Coastside Farmers’ Markets come take a look at a hoop-house prototype some of our community folks are building to help a village in Nicaragua grow tomatoes in the nearly constant rain. I am taking notes, believe me!
There are some benefits to the abundance of rainfall - Melons are plentiful, you can still get some tasty peaches, grapes are coming on now and mighty tasty. Ever try a watermelon salad? I was skeptical myself until the Lovely Leslie served me up a plate of the sweet pink chunks tossed with arugula ( thanks, Eda!) and feta ( Dee, you rascal). That and a five dollah’ cocktail, and I was in a better mood immediately, and convinced.
Swing by The HEAL Project booth in Half Moon Bay this Saturday and see whats growing on there, or head to the Rockaway location for some over-wintering garden starts from Pacifica Gardens. (A tip of the Toque to Charles for supporting our non-profit boot all season)
Frank Ellis wows the crowds on Saturday, and the Don Rowell Trio takes the stage in Pacifica on Wednesday. Singing Wood Marimba makes their way back to Half Moon Bay on 9/10. Thanks to the OddFellows once again - from me and from our young fan Chowderhouse Sam - for your support of our local musicians at the Market.
Another nod is due our hosts at Shoreline Station. They have been great to us and we really appreciate their hospitality. The next time you find yourself in Cunha’s or the San Benito House, thank them for me, willya?
Erin Tormey Founder, Manager Coastside Farmers’ Markets May - December
Half Moon Bay @ Shoreline Station•Saturdays - 9 to 1 • Pacifica @ Rockaway Beach•Wednesdays - 2:30 - 6:30
“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you are a thousand miles from a cornfield.” Dwight D. Eisenhower