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May 13, 2007 10:28 PM

Marin Farmers Market Notes

I have been a happy patron of Marin Farmers Market (all year on Sundays and Thursday mornings at Marin Civic Center, seasonally other places in Marin--including my local Fairfax FM, now open Wednesday afternoons) for 17 years; and they just keep improving.

Last week the Swanton's booth had other produce but no strawberries. Coming soon, I was told. Soon was today and these are the best, as usual. Not bloated, not just super sweet, but wonderful balance of sugar and acid and classic strawberry flavor.

The mushroom stand had morels at last, for $26 per lb. Iacoppi's, our usual purveyors of wonderful peas had lovely favas at $3.50 per lb, but this time I opted for the favas from the Asian produce stand at $1.75. (Fine looking gai lan as well.) No better combination than morels and favas, either with pasta or just together. Spring must be here.

They will be tomorrow's dinner. For today, fine Zuckermans Delta asparagus with some very juicy and delicately flavored spring garlic, alongside Mission Fish's local King salmon.( A roast was $8.95 per lb, up from $7.95, their first price increase in four or five years). A great pairing for dinner.

I talked to Deanna from Black Sheep Farms in Potter Valley. She and her boyfriend raise heritage pigs (Hereford, not the more often-seen Hampshire/Kurobota) and heritage lambs and coming soon: Arucana chickens and their eggs. She said she could get me a rooster so I can make coq au vin with a real coq instead of just store-bought hen. I am looking forward.

Meanwhile, the Bay Area's great fortune in having local growers and artisanal food processors is hard to match. We are lucky to be able to support these folks and enjoy the fruits of their labors.

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  1. Black Sheep Farms is on my shortlist of favorite farms lately. Their pork is outstanding, and they are generally nice people doing a great job of raising their animals. Their bacon is nice - lightly smoked relative to other bacons in the area.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Fig Newton

      I saw Black Sheep at the Santa Rosa farmers market on Saturday morning, don't think I've noticed them there before. Long list of pork and beef cuts, but no lamb. Have we missed lamb season already?

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        I'm purchasing part of a lamb from Full Belly Farms and was told it would be in a few months.

    2. >Mission Fish's local King salmon.( A roast was $8.95 per lb...)<

      What's a salmon roast?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Mick Ruthven

        A big hunk, bone-in, like a quarter of a whole salmon.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Yes, what Melanie said. Essentially a cross section of the fish. Might be much less that 1/4 of the whole salmon, depending on size. I usually get a 2-3 pound section. If it is mid-section, I cut off belly flaps and freeze them for a dinner treat at a later time. Tail section, of course is body all across. Taking a tip from, (I think; memory not sharp on this) the Jay Harlow California Seafood Cookbook, I poach the roast at this time of year; may grill it later in season when fish have built up more flavor. My salmon poaching liquid is now a descendent of the original salmon court bullion of 4 years ago and is sooo rich. I recommend saving a place in freezer for it. Two of us eat it warm the first night, room temp the next--I love cold poached salmon--and further leftovers become salmon salad. If this is Tuesday, it must be salmon salad.

      2. Salmon at $8.95 a pound, are you sure that was wild, local, and fresh? That seems oddly cheap.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          As a roast, not really, when whole salmon direct from the boats are $7 per pound.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Yes. If not, Marin County Farmers Market Association has been conned by Mission Fish for years. Definitely not farmed and labeled as local. (When not in season here, it is labeled Alaska or British Columbia or is absent.) Looks fresh, smells fresh, feels fresh, tastes fresh.

            1. re: alfairfax

              The family that has two big tents in the back on Sunday just buys their fish. And much of it is on that Monterey Aquarium don't buy list! I've brought it up to the managers but they feel a fish monger is needed. Be sure and ask and look them in the eye!

              1. re: Earl Grey

                The state's "certified farmers market" rule about farmers selling only their own produce does not apply to fish or meat vendors.

                1. re: Earl Grey

                  Just to be clear, that large operation in the back of the Sunday market is not Mission Fish, which is what I have been talking about in OP and subsequent postings. Mission Fish is a small-booth operation at the very front of the market. They do buy fish as well--fresh Baja shrimp, for example--but I do not believe have ever offered anyting on the MB Aquarium avoid list.

                  1. re: alfairfax

                    I haven't been to Marin for awhile but they did actually have a salmon fisherman at one point. That was pretty great.
                    Those people in the back had frozen shrimp from mexico at one point.
                    I think it's fine but the fisherman should have been given a parade and the fishmongers a space in the parking lot.

            2. I went this moring to buy local king salmon for a bbq this evening. I walked the whole market (I thought) but didn't see Mission Fish. I then went to Santa Rosa Seafood, the large fish market there and bought local king salmon filet for $16.99/lb (it's $24-$25 in the stores).

              2 Replies
              1. re: Mick Ruthven

                Mick, I was out of town Sunday 5/27, so do not know who/what was at Marin Frmrs Mkt this week. I will also be out of town next two Sundays. (Will be doing good things in fun places, but just having to post this makes me miss the home place.) For your info, and anyone elses, Mission Fish is in the very front row of stalls, parallel to the driveway, right across from parking lot, very near Aidells sausage stand, across from coffee stand. Near music. Before massage tent. Does this sound like parody of Marin??

                1. re: alfairfax

                  Thanks, I'll look there more carefully next time. But it would be hard to beat the King salmon filet I got from Santa Rosa Seafood.