Letter: Coastside Farmers Market field notes
I don’t know about you, Marketeers, but I am still trying to catch up on my sleep after a whirlwind o’ graduations, promotions, celebrations and elevations of all ilk and stripe. Lovely family suppers, barbeque of all varieties, and an all-night grad night chaperone stint had me so muddled that I forgot entirely that I was the host for the June meeting of my book group. I was reminded of this happy fact late in the day and well after the Market closed, so I had to figure out how to clean my house, mow 5 acres, repair a fence, change the tires on a tractor AND make a dinner for 12 rather discerning women (the next night!) on a shoestring budget of both cash and time.
I was out of luck on all things machinery related, but Thank Heavens for the collection of " I don’t know what I am going to do with this…" type items that I picked up as the Market was closing. These odd gleanings, a bag of rice, and the fine example of a long gone Italian chef from the dark past saved my bacon, and that of the fine women who arrived chez moi the next evening requiring nourishment before diving into a rousing and ever so elevated conversation about the superior grace of a well turned phrase to a gam of the same description, and the problems that cultural misapprehensions about silverware can wreak on social intercourse.
Risotto is a boon to the clock and pocketbook challenged. This is what I have learned over the years. I am convinced that somewhere in Italy , some resourceful chef absolutely blew it while cooking the rice for the Majordomo. He did everything backwards to begin with, then tossed some wine, onions and olive oil to cover up the evidence, plopped a few perfect peas and the last smidgen of lobster into the mix and poof! Presented as a masterpiece, it was.
When you have a bag of Giusti’s baby artichokes, two shiny red onions, a few heads of lettuce, some slightly green peaches, a bag of rice, one big heavy pot, an interesting salad bowl, and you know that one of your guests will be arriving with a terrific bottle of inexpensive local Rose ( and I am NOT talking white Zin here people - pu-leeze) then you have everything you need to put the Ciao in your chow effortlessly.
Put your pot on the stove ( on medium heat) with enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Chop one onion, trim and quarter the baby artichokes and pile them into the pot and simmer them for a few minutes with a lid on while you search for the tablecloth. Transfer the chokes into a bowl for a bit, and pour the rice into the oily pan. Turn your attention to counting wineglasses and finding the corkscrew. Come back and notice the rice kernels are clearish around the edges, and some have browned a bit. Splash a blast of white wine to loosen the rice from sticking, let it steam off, then stir in 1 1/2 times the amount of water to rice. Stir, and go set the table remembering that the addition least one blossom changes everything for the better. A bunch of fragrant Sweet Peas in an old creamer, and well, sheesh. Come back to the kitchen, stir the rice again, and then peel and slice some peaches. Stir the rice some more and then cut up the other onion into thin, thin half-rings. Stir some more, then find a frying pan and set the onions with some light oil ( almond if you have it works wonders here) on medium low and let them get soft and clear. No need to caramelize - most red onions are sweet enough. Toss the artichokes and onions into the rice and stir some more. Toss the peaches into the onions and saute gently. Stir the risotto again, then tear up your lettuces into your salad bowl. I added a splash of Big Paw Hibiscus Rice vinegar to the peaches and onions, then splayed the concoction over a bed of greens. After the last stirring of the risotto I added a few generous chunks of Harley Farms ricotta, stirred once more and poof! Presented as a masterpiece, it was.
Plus, there was enough left-over to make little risotto cakes the next day, which were heavenly alongside a yellow beet and fennel salad, which made a certain neighbor with an enviable tool-box much more agreeable to helping me loosen my lug-nuts.
Speaking of great neighbors, and fine women: Thanks a Bushel and a Bunch to our neighbors and Friends of the Farmers Market in Pacifica : Suzan Getchell-Wallace of Coldwell Banker-Fahey Properties in Rockaway Beach who literally give us the power the makes the music, and to MaryEllen Forrest and her crew from Timberlake-Forrest and The Pacifica Relay for Life Team, who volunteer their time to make sure the the streets are safe, the farmers get some much needed assistance setting up, and that our local musicians and community based non-profits are well-tented on Wednesday afternoons!
This Week: If Risotto doesn’t rock your boat, Dave Crimmen will, The HEAL Project Garden Club has a few surprises for you in Half Moon Bay, and Don Rowell Trio is set to wow Rockaway on Wednesday -
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