Letter: Coastside Farmers Market field notes
Do you feel lucky, Marketeers? Do you?
I have always known that I live in a somewhat rarified air, having the good fortune to be born in this area, schooled here, left for a while and saw other parts of the world and county, and knew what I was coming back to, and for. We live in a achingly beautiful place where good food grows, and if you are motivated, diligent and lucky, you can grow or catch food of some sort all year round on this part of the Coast. Not a lot at times, mind you, but it can be done. You’d have to really work at it to feed your family all year from just your own garden, but we have some extremely talented Fisheries and Agricultural Professionals in the area, and they are making the idea of the In-County Diet an imaginable thing to try. I have enjoyed a number of books that detail various people’s attempts at mileage limited diets, and to tell you the real truth, I am not sure I am cut out for a life without coffee, which is what it all boils down to for me, pun absolutely intended. I am just not that enamored with deprivation therapy. I have already given up most all my vices - some entirely unintentionally, but they are gone none-the-less- and so I am reluctant to do without the last of my personal Mohicans ( or in my case, Wiyot, but that’s another story).
So , I drink a lot of coffee, most of it roasted at the Half Moon Bay Airport, eat plenty of berries to offset all the free-radicals I produce ( or am related to) , and get as much of my food from as close to home as I can get it, and that, Marketeers is where we all luck out.
It’s easy to do a Truly Local Lunch a few days a week around here during Market Season, and I often do it by default. And while books are nice - and Heaven knows I have plenty - I have some handy hints that will save you a few bucks on books so you can spend them at the Market this week. Start with a digital camera. Bring one and snap off a few shots to remind you of what’s in season now. Notice that among other the other delights in his fields - like his ridiculously beautiful head lettuces and muscular onions - John of Fifth Crow Farms grows wheat in Pescadero, and it mills into some very hearty, really flavorful flour. Farmer John and Eda grow over 40 different crops, including some of the world’s best spinach 5 blocks away from the Market. Green Oaks Creek has acres of berries, veggies and very happy hens in Pesacdero that lay incredibly rich, flavorful eggs. Orlando dry-farms tomatoes in small patches all over San Gregorio and the South Coast and while we are waiting from those to arrive, he has quite beautiful beets and brilliant chard on offer, Kris from Tunitas Creek Ranch combines ultra-clean fruit, leaf and stem to make remarkable teas and bouquets to complement Aaron’s gorgeous field greens and crispy turnips, the Giusti’s baby artichokes are as famous for their terroir as Harley Farm’s Goat’s milk cheeses, and Jim makes amazingly good vinegars from the fruits he grows on his farmlette in Pacifica. Get a little bit of something from everyone and you have the makings of one seriously great company-worthy meal that defines and defies the description of Localvore, and that folks in The City would pay double for especially if they shop at Ferry Plaza. Plus, even if you do shop at there, you can’t get produce from any of the aforementioned farms there, or in any other Farmers Market in our county, for that matter. Just Half Moon Bay and Pacifica. Nifty, no? Again, I ask, do you feel lucky?
Anyway - localvores, start your engines. Combine that flour with water and eggs and you have pasta. Sautee spinach or chard with leeks and layer a loca-zagne with a shredding of chevre. Whip up those bright eggs with a batch of steamed baby artichokes and you have frittata. Toss those lettuces with beets marinated in plum vinegar and mint, shelled peas, diced raw turnip ( no one will ever guess) and crumbled goats cheese make a divine salad. Warm new potatoes with fresh herbs on the side. Coastal Strawberries - half macerated overnight in their own juice and the other half added fresh the next morning with borage blossoms served over a wedge of Dee’s fresh ricotta are simply gorgeous and a lovely way to end a mid-day meal. Serve it all on a piece of local pottery and then tidy up with soaps made by hand in Moss Beach.
Then head to the Harbor for halibut if you like, and while you’re there, if you haven’t tried sand dabs, you might consider doing that before you depart the planet. And if you really rather work with the guidance of a cookbook, stop in to Harbor Books and see what Carol suggests for your affliction.
In other news: This week, Raymond and Helen break out their fiddles, the folks from Sonrisa’s will smile at the least provocation, and we are hosting a marrow drive for an ailing Coastside youngster who is hoping to find a match close to home.
Thanks to our sponsors Haynes, Beffel and Wolfeld who know how to keep a secret and to Mark and Janet of Sierra West who know how let you in on one.
By the Way - Should any of your Market photos turn out to be lovely, send them to me. Maybe one day I’ll write a book of my own and your photo will grace the cover. Again, I ask, do you feel lucky?
See you at the Market -
Coastside Farmers Markets