Santa Rosa Farmer's Market: Springtime Bits of Deliciousness (longish)
It's finally Springtime...the winterblahs are fading fast, and the Santa Rosa year-round Farmer's Market is ripe with tasty and beautiful food finds.
Things I noticed at last weekend's (Saturday, April 12th) market while blissfuly wandering with Melanie (maybe she will post her observations as well, as I'm sure things caught her keen eye that I missed):
Some vendors had the first fava beans I've seen of the season...Triple T Ranch in particular had a nice big pile of 'em.
Triple T also has wonderful eggs (both certified organic and not) that they sell by the dozen or the half-dozen. The yolks are so lovely and orange, and they taste just as good as the eggs I used to get fresh from my grandparent's farm when I was a child. And I know they are working on having duck eggs at some point. (Their "former" ducks were the unfortunate victims of Nature's lovely food chain.)
The "hidden treasure" of the Drake's Bay Oyster booth is their pozole (from Wikipedia: "traditional pre-Columbian soup or stew made from hominy, with pork (or other meat), chile, and other seasonings and garnish, such as cabbage, lettuce, oregano, cilantro, avocado, radish, lime juice, etc.") Look for the sign, written in sharpie on a paper plate hanging off of their booth. When it's not there, they've run out! Drake's pozole is a delicious combo of pork and chicken with a great red-tinged broth. It's not overly spicy (they have different condiments on the table if you want to spice it up a bit, and the pozole is usually served with a small plate of lemon slices, chopped
onion and dried oregano for you to add to your taste) It makes for a terrific market breakfast/brunch, especially paired with a couple of their freshly-made tortillas, hot off the griddle.
A stop at Nancy of Middleton Farm's booth is a must, at the very least to gaze upon the wonder that is her amazingly gorgeous produce. (The leeks in particular are just spectacular...I mean, I have never seen leeks so lovely, or large! I make jokes that she must do some sort of magical incantations or sacrifices to the Nature gods/goddesses.) This time around she had the first asparagus of the season that I had seen...larger spears and "baby" ones (I grabbed up the last of her baby asparagus...which didn't even make it near my stove...I literally stood by my sink that evening, munching away at them raw, occasionally dipping a tip into some sea salt...and that was dindin) Sweet, delicious, pure asparagus flavour..the essence of springtime. Other standouts are her sunchokes, baby broccoli, baby garlic and rhubarb (you have to get their early to get it!). She often has some hyssop as well, which I love to dry and use for tea, although I'm experimenting with it's culinary uses. It has a lovely anise-like taste.
Santi Restaurant is now a fixture at this FM (previously they were only at the Healdsburg Farmer's Market) with their various house-made charcuterie which is mostly sausages, but often includes an amazingly delicious headcheese (I'm so addicted to this! They were out when I was there this
past weekend, and they promised to have more this coming Saturday. I nearly cried, I was so looking forward to getting some!) and different terrines (Two weeks ago I had their duck terrine...wow...YUM). This time I picked up a four-pack of their hawaiian portuguese sausage: Duroc pork, pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, marjoram & spices. Used some of it in a brunch frittata and it's so delicious and flavourful, without being overwhelming. I've had different sausages from Fra'mani and Molinari (which I really enjoy), and I think Santi's offerings are now at the top of my "snausages I love" list (along with Black Sheep's), kicking those two down a few notches. If you go to Santi's website, you can sign up for a weekly email notification of which products they will have at the FM that week.
Black Sheep Farms didn't have any bacon or snausage but I was told that in two weeks those would return. I didn't know what "real pork" tasted like until I had it from Black Sheep.
Mateo Granados continues to kick serious breakfast butt with their offerings. Their huevos rancheros is as addicting as crack to me. And man, do they know how to pickle veggies! I was NOT a pickled veggie fan, then I had these...and the clouds parted, a heavenly light shone down on my plate and I was a pickled veggie convert. (wish my camera battery hadn't died
so I could have taken a pic of their menu...I have completely blanked on the list of ingredients) They use a lot of ingredients from other farmers/vendors such as Triple T Ranch, Black Sheep Farms and I think Middleton Farm. The "tasty secret" of Mateo's booth is that they sell small
blocks of achiote paste. I used that, with a good portion of orange juice, to marinate/coat my Black Sheep Farms pork for Easter dinner and it was delicious stuff. Aqua Fresca flavours change weekly...this week it was orange with mint.
There are good deals to be found as well. Gandolph's Fine Chocolates is at the FM nearly every week, with a selection of around 12 flavours of truffles (including a lovely salted caramel) for purchase, and if you buy a box (6, 12, or 24 pieces), and bring the empty box back, he will refill it for half-price. It's the deal of the century people! A 6 piece box is $10, 12 piece is $20 and 24 piece is $35...so, if you return for a refill (you must have the box!), it will be $5, $10 and $17.50 respectively.
Ecco Caffe (an excellent roaster!) has a booth, where they sell their freshly roasted beans, as well as cups of brewed to order coffee (they usually have several different varieties available...their Ethiopian Yirgacheffe is a fav of mine.) If you bring your own cup/mug/travelmug with you, a cup of coffee is only $1, as opposed to $1.75.
Go forth and feast upon Sonoma County's Spring Bounty! Discover your own personal farmer's market treasures. Return and share your finds!
Great reporting! Do you know if the Oyster booth offers an oyster add-in for the Pozole... that would be great.
Also... high quality head cheese, nice! I haven't had a head cheese torta in a while. With regards to the pickled veggies.... on a recent trip to La Texanita, the Entrees came with delectable, succulent, delicious pickled veggies (Brocoli, Cauliflower, Carrots etc.,)... wondering if you have had their version, and how Mateo's stack up?
I never thought to mix my pozole with my oysters...but it could be interesting! I'll have to check next time I'm there to see...but you could just purchase a bowl of pozole and an oyster or two and mix them yourself as well, I think.
Re: pickled veggies...I finally had a chance to try La Texanita's last week (didn't get any broccoli though, ): ) , and they are quite different from Mateo's. La Texanita's were right on the edge of too spicyhot for me, actually, and the batch I had on my plate was more...hmm..acidic/vinegary than Mateo's version. I have to say, I think I prefer Mateo's....flavourful, not too spicy/hot, not too much of a hard acidic edge to them...maybe his pickled veggies are "newer" and haven't spent as much time in the pickling brine...I'm not sure. Need to do more taste testing/comparisons! I'd love to hear what you think about each of them though. Hopefully you'll get a chance to give Mateo's version a try. (I'm attaching a pic of Mateo's menu board to entice you...heh)
So...updates for this coming market (the 26th): It will be one of the last Santa Rosa Markets for Nancy of Middleton Farm, as her home farmer's market (Healdsburg) opens in May, and she'll be there on Saturdays, and at the Sebastopol FM on Sundays. Catch her in Santa Rosa while you can! Last week she had the cutest looking "baby" artichokes, and more delicious asparagus, sorrel and green garlic...and of course her Glorious Leeks.
Santi's snausage offerings (according to the website) will be: Calabrese, French Country and 2 brand new sausages: Chorizo Verde & Piedmontese Potato Sausage.
Black Sheep should have sausage and bacon available. (I hope!)
Dept. Of Corrections of my original post: I was off on my Ecco prices...a cup of drip coffee that they brew when you order it (they use nifty ceramic cone filter holders) is $2, and $1.50 if you bring your own cup. (Try their new offering, the Bolivian, which is a Cup of Excellence winner) I believe you also get a free cup of coffee if you buy a pound of coffee from the booth.