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What's in PEAK season in the Bay Area right now?

  • m

I'm looking to make some seasonal recipes and am wondering what is at its finest produce-wise right this minute (ok, in the next week or so) in our area. Thanks!

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  1. green beans
    summer squash
    squash blossoms
    garlic
    onions
    Red Haven peaches
    Santa Rosa plums

    1. Zucchini, spinach, basil, lettuce and peaches are all excellent right now. Tomato, eggplant and green beans are early and will only get better but are still pretty darn good right now.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Morton the Mousse

        I haven't seen any satisfactory tomatoes yet, but I'm very picky.

        Some peaches are at their peak but watch out for unripe ones.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          What about corn, will that hit its stride later?

          1. re: Maya

            We had Brentwood corn last week. It was very good.

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            The Early Girl and Cherry Tomatoes from Tip Top are very good - they're my standard for early season tomatoes. I've been less impressed by the heirlooms at other farms. Of course, none of them compare to the late season dry farm from Quetzal and Dirty Girl.

            I get all my peaches from Ram Das and the Red Havens are just phenomenal right now.

            1. re: Morton the Mousse

              I'm not a fan of modern hybrids like Early Girl or the Sweet 100-derived cherry tomatoes.

              1. re: Morton the Mousse

                Ate the first of my Early Girls day before yesterday. MMMMMMM! Nothing like homegrown!

          3. One chef confided to me that he tracks the menus at Chez Panisse, http://chezpanisse.com , to stay on top of what's at peak season to tap into the collective wisdom of the experienced foragers there.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Good tip, the only catch is that you can't always get the stuff Chez Panisse does (especially produce from Knoll or that Japanese family's farm down toward LA).

              One sign of how market-driven they are is shown by the change in last night's menu. The main course was announced at the beginning of the month (on the Monday Night Dinners menu) as:

              Brine-cured Laughing Stock Farm pork loin with green beans, shell beans, and sweet corn pudding

              But since shell beans and corn are so late, the menu put up on Saturday was:

              - Fig and green bean salad with aged goat cheese and jamón serrano
              - Poulet à la piperade: Braised and grilled Hoffman Farm chicken with sweet and hot peppers in the Basque manner
              - Roasted Frog Hollow Farm peach with crème anglaise

              By Monday they managed to get some perfect, very ripe raspberries somewhere, so they added those to the dessert.

              Where they got red peppers for the piperade I dunno ... maybe a conserve? Should have asked Gordon.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                The red peppers were probably from the Chino Family farm you mentioned, not organic, by the way.
                How do you know Gordon?

                1. re: rabaja

                  Probably met him through a friend when they were both working at Chez Panisse 20 years ago.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    But doesn't your post prove Melanie's excellent tip? No one is saying to get those SPECIFIC vendors, but it is an indication what is produce is currently at its peak.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      It can be misleading. Red peppers and heirloom tomatoes are both on CP's menu this week, but I haven't yet seen any red peppers at the farmers market, and the heirloom tomatoes are just starting to come in and are at least a month away from their peak.

              2. Huh - I just lost my initial reply. Maybe too many people were excited about this topic!

                I'd add beets to the list above. They're so sweet right now! I just roast with olive oil in a hot oven, peel and splash with balsamic and S&P.

                I got beets and some beautiful, tender spinach with huge leaves from the Green Gulch stand at the Sat Farmer's Mkt. last week. All their greens looked amazing - kale, chard and lettuce.

                I haven't tasted a tasty tomato yet. I bought some pretty ones 2 weeks ago and they were just plain watery - no flavor. I'm guessing they'll be better at the end of the month?

                3 Replies
                1. re: fine wino

                  The Early Girls I got at Alemany on Saturday were fantastic! The rest of the tomatoes aren't quite there yet.

                  1. re: fine wino

                    I've also had some great early girls purchased at the Ferry Plaza market.

                    1. re: Joan Kureczka

                      Thanks, ladies! I'm gonna go looking for those early girlies on Sat at the Ferry Bldg! If I was still in Boston I'd be waiting another month and a half for a good tomato.

                  2. I always check with cuesa.org to find out what is in season.
                    If you sign up for their every-friday email newlsetter, they have a list of what's current at the market:

                    Last week's list:
                    1. Lambsquarters
                    2. Armenian Striped cucumbers
                    3. Early Girl tomatoes
                    4. Ambrosia melons
                    5. Brown Turkey figs
                    6. Plums
                    7. White nectarines
                    8. Mixed bouquets
                    9. Queso fresco
                    10. Apple cider vinegar

                    Here is the cuesa seasonality chart:

                    http://cuesa.org/seasonality/charts/v...

                    I wasnt impressed at all with peaches and nectarines last year, but this year there are quite a few I like. I prefer quite acidic stone fruit and there seems to be more of it around than usual.

                    I actualy got some surprisingly impressive heirlooms that did have flavour, but I forget from which vendor - it wasnt the big one in the middle of the back of the Ferry P farmers market. it was one of the smaller vendors on the front side.

                    Radishes are good right now!
                    And I found tomatillos for the first time this year at the Marin FM last week, and oh yay, Happy Quail have rhubarb at last. They told me they would have it a few more weeks.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Sixy

                      Sixy's right, using CUESA's website is helpful. I use KQED's chart as well: http://www.kqed.org/topics/home/cooki...

                      However you have to take them both with a grain of salt due to variations in weather from year to year (e.g., this year's downpours in March).

                    2. All good advice, but I'm throwing in to get the softshell crabs while you still can!

                      1. This is a great tip on the CUESA newletter. Thanks Sixy!

                        1. Based on the newsletter I get from eatwell it seems as though everything is MUCH later than usual this year due to the spring rains which prevented many local farmers from being able to plant their fields. Some folks were able to get out there earlier than others but things that usually come out in early-June still aren't ready to be picked. These same rains also knocked out a lot of the tree fruit crops which may explain why there are fewer stone fruits available this year. Just this week early girls and melons are starting to arrive. Being attached to a single farm really makes you aware of just how seasonal seasonal eating is. Here's to indian summer!

                          1. hello, the best of what's been on our table (not just glimpsed at the markets): baby purple carrots, garlic, summer squashes, yellow sweet corn (Brentwood), ollalieberries, santa rosa plums. enjoy

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: moto

                              I got some santa rosa plums at Alemany as well. Yesterday I ate one that was so good I had to put it down between bites to close my eyes and think about it. I could kick myself for not paying attention to the vendor's name.

                            2. Here's a website from KQED, the local PBS station, that should help you quite a bit:

                              http://www.kqed.org/topics/home/cooki...

                              1 Reply
                              1. I think it depends on from what farm (and which microclimate) In my produce box from Terra Firma the corn and tomatoes are getting to be very good. Strangly, the green beans are done already. Melons are getting better, but I wouldn't say they've peaked yet. Basil and squash are both good. Terra Firma is in Winters (kind of near Davis)