What You Missed at the Market

I woke up at 6:40 this morning.  Thinking I’d time my arrival at the market with the 10 a.m. Chefs at the Market demonstration (this week, Mike Shackleford of Trelio in Clovis), I took my time getting ready, installed some software on my work machine, and caught up on email.

It’ll be fine, I thought to myself.  I haven’t missed out on any items on my list lately despite having shifted from arriving at 7-something to 9-something.

Well, I knew I was taking chances, and this was the week my luck ended.  Michele was out of parsley by the time I arrived.  Being the queen of Too Much Information, I said to her, “This is what I get for taking the time to sit around and exfoliate and moisturize my feet this morning!  And I’m not even wearing sandals!”

I got Il Giardino Organico’s last bunch of parsley, and then had to hunt around for more.  I totally struck out on mint and had to go to WFM for that.

So that means back to the 7 a.m. habit for me.  It’s cooler at 7 a.m., and we’re getting into the time of year where the difference between the 7 a.m. temperature and the 9 a.m. temperature is significant.  Plus the market is less crowded then, so it’s probably for the best.

As for what’s new this week, Vince Iwo had the first Santa Rosa plums of the season. I knew they were coming on, but it’s still hard to believe we’re already up to Santa Rosa.  Plum varieties harvest for ten days to about two weeks, creating a minutely-partitioned seasonality as each one of the couple hundred in California production gives way to the next.

Stone fruit varieties don’t often stand the test of time. There are some longstanding ones, but a variety chart from even as little as 10 years ago is likely to have a fair number that are no longer grown.  Many varieties fall by the wayside as breeders develop newer ones with more positive traits – but Santa Rosa is one of those rare, enduring, standard-setting classics.

Developed by botanist Luther Burbank, the Santa Rosa is a classic sweet-tart plum – sweet yellow-amber flesh overlaid with tart purple-red skin.  If you leave them to ripen until they’re just past springy into slightly soft – which is my preference – the skin will get a little less tart and bracing.

Their sweet-tart nature makes them a great choice for jam or preserves, or for those of you who don’t mind a little plum skin in your plum crisp or pie, baking, as well. Because of their complex flavor balance, they’ll have more depth after cooking than a straight-sweet fruit will.

And here’s Vince’s banner…he made me promise I’d say where I got ’em…

As for this week’s installment of Chefs at the Market, the gents from Trelio Restaurant in Clovis were preparing a mixed green salad with cherries.

It seemed to have originally been a Salad of Duck Confit, Mixed Greens and Cherries, but luckily enough for me, the duck confit hadn’t made it to market, and they’d added shiitake mushrooms to the mix, and had made some other improvisations as well.  The nicest, I thought, was the use of chocolate mint as part of the greens in the salad – I grew it a couple years ago, and I always struggled to find ways to use it.  It made an unexpectedly wonderful match with the cherries.  There’s culinary creativity for you.

Their recipe, after the jump…

For the vinaigrette:

1 lb. cherries, washed and stems removed
2 small shallots
half a pear, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 c. white wine or champagne vinegar
1 c. canola oil
splash kirschwasser, brandy, or port
salt, black pepper and sugar to taste

For the salad:
mixed greens
cherries, washed, stems removed
chocolate mint
shiitake mushrooms

Vinaigrette method:

Pit and half the cherries.  Set aside about a cup for use in the salad.  Sauté the shallots until translucent but do not allow them to color.  Add the pears and cherries to the pan and sweat until soft but do not allow them to color.  Add the kirschwasser, brandy or port and cook until the alcohol has had an opportunity to evaporate away.  Chill the mixture.  Place in blender container and puree until smooth.  Add oil, season to taste, and strain through a sieve.

Salad method:

Mix all ingredients; toss and season to taste.


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