Field Notes: Coastside Farmer’s Market


By on Fri, December 4, 2009

Yes, it’s true, the season of sharing is full upon us and thank goodness for that.  Big News this year is that it seems that local legends Farmer John & Eda, the Giusti’s and the lovely Ariel of Green Oaks Creek will be with us for the duration of the season, which means we’ll be privy to an abundant supply of brussels sprouts, artichokes of all sorts, amazing spinach and some indescribably delicious apple butters and jams, in case you don;t have time to make your own in the next couple of weeks.

There is rather a lot to do at this time of year, and so many ways to go off the rails with all the wing-dings and festibilites, but I reckon that if you spend the week chowing down on Natures Little Brillo Pads ( my Grandad’s word for brussels sprouts and all things cruciferous) you’ll come through the season trim and sassy as you were going in. It’s a theory, anyway, and one I have been testing with varying degrees of success most of my adult life. 

But I gotta tell ya, it is so much easier lately to keep your self on an even keel as it seems that the days of going from one soiree to another with nothing on offer but trays laden with absurdly rich appetizers and gargantuan wedges of brie are a thing of the past in this neighborhood.  And I am thrilled because truly, as one of those gals with an hourglass figure that tends to head for late afternoon, I have never been thrilled to find the only appetizer alternative with anything remotely nutritious to be bucket of cheezy-spinach dip with a bowl of carrot-bullets, which was the standard fare - along with chinks of all kinds of cheesecake - at just about every family gathering and wing-ding I attended for a while. So I started making stuff up to take with me to holiday whoop-de-la’s that are easy, inexpensive and look as great on the plate as they do on your, well, exit strategy.

One serious hit I will share is this:  Get a nice piece of Harley Farms Goats Cheese - a small piece goes a long, long way here -and a few bunches of beets - red,  golden and chioggia - that are roughly the same size. Blanch the beets - whole-  until tender.  While they are cooking, whip up a lovely vinaigrette with lots of fresh herbs - I love to do this with Big Paws hibiscus/rice vinegar dolled up with a dash of Home Chef’s Garam Malsala, and a generous dicing of purple onion.  Whip it up, set it aside.  When the beets are tender, slip the skins off them and trim the bottoms so they stand up straight later, and check them whole into the marinade while they are still nice and hot.  Let them cool in the marinade until you can handle them comfortably, then here’s what you do:

Arrange the whole beets on a nice flat platter, then cut them into 6 wedges and let them fall open like stars, or pointsettias, then slice a piece of the cheese to make a nice center for each "flower". If you do this while the beets are still warm, the cheese will melt a bit so each beet gets a smidge on the end.  Strain out the herby bits from the vinaigrette, scatter it around the plate and Etoile!  Really Pretty, really tasty , Wow’s the people and makes your heart sing!

Heaping Helping of Gratitude to the Friends of the Farmer’s Market, and all the Market sponsors for this season, especially 1st National Bank and New Leaf for helping to "pay the rent"  at the Market for the many local non-profits working so hard to make sure everyone in our community has something to eat this holiday season.

See you at the Market!


Erin Tormey

Coastside Farmers Markets

May to December

In Half Moon Bay @ Shoreline Station

Saturdays, 9 am to 1 pm •

In Pacifica @ Rockaway Beach

Wednesdays, 2:30 -6:30pm