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What's in Season for April?

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Like a lot of people, I try to eat seasonally but sometimes it's hard to separate what's in from what's flown in. Also, the seasonal lists online don't account for variable quality and availability.

So it would be great to know what to look for and what's in coming in, going out, and at its peak. Please what you are seeing around the area this month that is in season and where are you finding it.

Seems like brussels sprouts are going out (at least the ones I see on the peninsula are looking like it) and artichokes are coming in. And I think green garlic should showing up soon, yes? April also makes me think of lamb, but I'm not sure who has local lamb or if that is truly seasonal anymore.

What else are you seeing that is good in April?

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  1. I think you're right on the Brussels sprouts and artichokes. Leeks are one of my favorite spring vegetables, and last time I was at the farmers market I saw some gorgeous ones. Local (Watsonville) strawberries are just starting to come in, but they won't be really good for another few weeks. Asparagus -- I was at the Berkeley Bowl yesterday and there was asparagus everywhere. Local cauliflower seems to be available all most of the year now, but I just harvested mine and so this may be the peak season.

    People associate lamb with spring, but until I was in Argentina last fall (their spring) I didn't realize that real spring lamb is virtually unheard of in the US. There's not a whole lot of local lamb -- the only place I've bought it retail is Golden Gate Meats in the Ferry Building, which sometimes has local lamb. Otherwise, you have to go direct to farmer. I get some excellent lamb from a CSA that will remain unnamed because the supply is limited -- I think the smallest quantity they sell is half a lamb, so you need a freezer.
    http://www.edibleportland.com/2008/03...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamb_and...

    -----
    Berkeley Bowl
    2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

    Golden Gate Meat
    Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

    6 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      I've seen a lot of asparagus too. Looks like we may be in the peak of the season right now.

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Monterey Market had beautiful, though small, local, organic cauliflower on Friday. You don't see that too often. (I'm impressed you grow your own.) I also bought the marble potatoes in three colors. There were baby artichokes, too.

        1. re: Glencora

          I don't know about supermarkets, but I see small, local, organic cauliflower all the time at the beginning of the season. Swanson's often one of the first farms to have it. Personally I like the stronger flavor of the big yellow mature heads best.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I saw some of the smaller ones at the Menlo Park farmer's market on Sunday too.

          2. re: Glencora

            I got caught up in the backyard food-growing craze last year. Fortunately, I have someone who does most of the work! I love being able to come home from work, walk out the back door and pick some veggies for dinner, although the cauliflowers were the only real stars of the winter season (we had some lettuces, but the brussels sprouts haven't really done much). Meanwhile, like a good little femivore, for the last week I've been making stuff from the citrus off my and a friend's trees: orange marmalade, Meyer limoncello, Meyer lemon curd, etc. There's an amazing amount of food that is (or can be) produced in urban/suburban neighborhoods, and that's when you really learn about local and seasonal!

          3. re: Ruth Lafler

            I saw lamb at Bi-Rite (SF) this morning. Can't remember the farm (sorry, not so helpful!) but given the local sourcing of much of Bi-Rite's other food, my guess would be that it's local lamb, or close to it.

          4. Green Garlic, Spring Onions, Morels, Peas, Fava Beans, Fresh Garbanzos, Pea leaves, Fava leaves, Nettles, Most Citrus,Strawberries, Rhubarb,Asparagus, Artichokes and the list goes on.
            Since April is not here yet it is hard to predict what will be coming in when. Local farmers markets seem to have every thing before distributors and produce markets do.
            Most meats are not that seasonal any more. Especially in a area with a mild climate.

            9 Replies
            1. re: chefj

              Bianchini's in San Carlos has morels right now, but they didn't look that fresh. They were half way to being dried out, which may not be a bad thing since you can reconstitute a mushroom. Most of them were medium small for morels.

              1. re: chefj

                Where can I get fresh garbanzos and fava leaves ?

                1. re: osho

                  Farmers markets, particularly Ferry Plaza Saturday, Berkeley Tuesday and Saturday (maybe Thursday), Marin Civic Center Thursday and Sunday. Since it has gotten colder and rainier availability may vary.

                  Maybe Berkeley Bowl or Monterey Market.

                  -----
                  Berkeley Bowl
                  2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    RL - I tried looking for them yesterday at the FP, no luck. Do you recall the name of the vendor ?

                    Can't wait to try out some of RW's brilliant suggestions ...

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/315778

                    1. re: osho

                      Seems a bit early for garbanzos and I haven't seen any yet on my own rounds. I did spot fava leaves at FP two weeks ago at the bigger Saturday market but can't tell you which vendor at this point.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        I think I saw them a week or two ago, as well and it was Knoll/Tairwa'.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          I saw garbanzos at Monterey Market a little over a week ago at the end of the aisle that holds the mushrooms.

                        2. re: osho

                          Like I said, it's gotten colder and rainier. And the Tuesday FP market doesn't get such a wide selection anyway.

                      2. re: osho

                        I saw fava leaves at the Menlo Park FM last Saturday.

                    2. Green garlic and asparagus are abundant right now.

                      Lots of artichokes and spring onions as well.

                      Pea greens are looking good so I got some, and I saw the first English peas at the farmers market yesterday as well as the first strawberries. Didn't buy peas or strawberries yet - maybe next week.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: farmersdaughter

                        Where did you see peas, the Ferry Plaza? There were none in Berkeley yet.

                        1. re: JasmineG

                          I saw some not so great looking snap peas at Grand Lake on Saturday, but no shelling peas yet.

                          1. re: JasmineG

                            Iacopi at the Ferry Plaza had just a few.

                            1. re: JasmineG

                              About 2 weeks ago I bought some peas at Monterey Mkt. I had a feeling they were too mature but bought them anyway because I'd always gotten good ones these. Well, these were not that great, I prefer very young peas. I'm going to ask the mgr about this next time.

                              1. re: walker

                                Yeah, I saw some at the produce market at Market Hall in Rockridge the other day, and they were definitely a little bitter. Yesterday I asked the people at Riverdog (at the Berkeley FM) when peas would be in, and they said about three weeks.

                              2. re: JasmineG

                                I've seen peas for the last couple of weeks but they haven't been good yet. Odd that the first of the season are big and starchy.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Do you have any idea why?

                                  1. re: walker

                                    No. Makes no sense to me. Early peas are usually annoyingly small but sweet. Maybe they're some new hybrid or something. I should ask one of the farmers.

                            2. Lately I've been seeing / buying carrots, chard, green garlic, green onions, potatoes, aparagus, beets, pea leaf, kale, Meyer lemons, Valencia oranges, Hass avocados, and spiny artichokes.

                              Lamb is seasonal for flocks used for weed / undergrowth control.

                              Strawberries are here but not ripe enough for me.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Agree on the strawberries. They were a pretty show at the markets this weekend, but they were almost crunchy and not yet sweet.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Also agree on the strawberries. Saw some this weekend that looked better than they tasted. Green garlic was really good.

                                2. If you subscribe to the CUESA enewsletter, you'll get an email once a week about what vendors are in and out of that week's farmer's market at the Ferry Plaza, and what produce is coming in, plentiful, and going out. It's pretty useful, whether or not you regularly go to the FPFM, because it shows you what is in and out of the farmers markets in general, and a lot of those vendors are at other local markets.

                                  Green garlic is definitely plentiful, I've seen lots of it in the past two weeks.