CSA Box #6

I had to grab my box on the way out to a business dinner this week at Jonathan’s in Kingsburg. We have group dinners there every so often, and he closes the restaurant for us for the evening.

When I walked in on Thursday evening, he said a gracious hello, and leaning into the pass-through to the kitchen, said, “Do you buy at the farmer’s market at Shaw and Blackstone?”

“I do,” I said. “And I’m also getting a box from T&D Willey now.”

“I thought I saw you at the market a couple weeks ago, but I wasn’t certain. You had a hat and sunglasses on, I think.”

“Probably a scarf – I don’t bother with my hair on Saturday mornings.”

“Ah, that was it. It looked sort of Caribbean, the way you had it tied up.”

“Yep, that was me. And in fact, I have my box from T&D with me – could I please put it in the fridge? Is there room?”

“Of course!”

I fetched it from the car.

“Wow – you must do some serious snacking on that commute of yours! I’ll put this in the walk-in.”

Jonathan is a character – a confirmed, dedicated meat-eater, he never fails to rib me a little bit about my herbivorism, but he always makes something good for me as well. His offerings for the evening, he described to the group, were a choice of a grain-fed 24 ounce porterhouse or a lobster tail, both with saffron orzo and summer squash.

“And something special for you,” he said, motioning in my direction.

I’m not usually much on eggs, but he’s made me a caramelized onion-and-goat cheese custard before that’s been the envy of the rest of the table. I had that, and beautifully grilled and seasoned zucchini and tomato.

About dessert: “We were originally going to have poached peaches tonight,” he said to the group, folding his hands together a little apologetically. “I was here at 5:30 this morning, trying to get the fruit off the pits, and swearing, and…well…there were peaches thrown in the kitchen.”

We all laughed. At this time most years, the freestone fruit would have begun already, but with the late start that the wet spring gave us, we haven’t moved into those varieties. Everything is still clingstone, and there’s no clean, aesthetically pleasing way to liberate the flesh of a clingstone peach from its pit. It’s a shame, as I’ve had Jonathan’s poached pears before, and I can imagine how good a peach would be given the same treatment.

We didn’t suffer, though. Dessert was house-made boysenberry sorbet and vanilla ice cream with fresh local blueberries and crème anglaise. It was wonderful. One of my tablemates was away when the dessert orders were taken, and when he came back, I said, “Would you like dessert? We ordered while you were gone.”

“I’m not usually a dessert eater. Just some coffee would be fine.”

“I’m not sharing,” I said.

“It’s okay.”

When mine arrived, he changed his mind and asked for one – and finished it.

It’s about half an hour back from Kingsburg to Fresno. It had been a hot day – over 100 – but it was getting to be dusk and bearably balmy when I left, my box carried back to the car by one of Jonathan’s staff. Once I was out on 99, I opened the sunroof for the first time since the winter and cranked up the music. The travel to San Francisco had worn me out pretty well, but with pleasant company enjoyed and a good meal eaten, I felt better than I had most of the week.

Maybe it was the eggs, I thought.

Here’s what I found when I opened the box:

Green Snap Beans
Red Leaf Lettuce
Pungent Fresh Red Onions
Cuyama Pink Lady Apples
Fresh Yukon Gold Potatoes
Mediterranean Cucumbers
Foster’s Cabbage
Peterson’s Fiesta Gem Peaches

I was very happy to see the cabbage – I had something I’ve wanted to make with cabbage, and I thought I wouldn’t see it in the box for a while because it’s summer, and it’s too hot for cabbage in the Valley. This cabbage came from Phil Foster in San Benito County, where it’s cool.

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