Stone fruit from Blossom Bluff

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Although cherries got hit hard this year, peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots seem to have been less affected with most varieties appearing right on schedule and in good supply. As we head towards July many of the mid-season varieties are taking a turn on both the Oliveto dinner menu and the dessert menu and occasionally showing up in the early a.m. cafe in the form of a pop-up crostata (which goes great with an cappuccino btw).

Fran looking cute in her fruit hat

Fran looking cute in her fruit hat

ON THE MENU:

Santa Rosa Sour
Platte Valley straight corn whiskey; Santa Rosa plum; Oliveto white peach shrub; lime; egg white; Angostura bitters

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Terrina of pigeon with pistachios, Santa Rosa plums, old aceto balsamico, and crostino

Panzanella of grilled peaches with wild arugula, balsamic vinegar, and Pecorino cheese

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Apricot sorbetto

Blossom Bluff aprium crostata with almond ice cream

Oven-roasted Regina peach with shortcake and fennel pollen

This Just In: Intergalatic Nectarines

Oliveto Pastry Chef Jenny Raven talking nectatrines

Oliveto Pastry Chef Jenny Raven talking nectatrines

If you’ve been hitting the Farmers’ Markets recently, you know that stone fruit, particularly peaches and nectarines are going OFF right now.

As always, our friends at Blossom Bluff Orchards have some incredible offerings in this department, and if you’ve been to the Blossom Bluff stand you know that they have an uncanny ability to pick out fruit for you depending on when you would like to eat it or what you are going to do with it. How do they DO that?

Thankfully, we have our own in-house expert, Pastry Chef Jenny Raven, who just happens to have two out-of-this-world nectarine desserts on the current menu:

Carine white nectarines with Moscato zabaglione and sesame seed tuile

Spring Bright yellow nectarines-almond frangipane tart with red wine swirl ice cream

So we posed the question of how to pick a good nectarine to Jenny & here’s what she told us:

A pastry chef's guide to the galaxy

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1. Smell it.
It should have an attractive, fruity aroma bordering on butterscotch. It should be fragrant & sweet. BUT the secret thing that not a lot of people know is…

2. Pick fruit that looks most like the night sky.
Uh…whaaaaat? Can you say that again?

Pick fruit that looks like the cosmos. That looks like outer-space.

Once she showed us some examples, we got it. Ah yes. An intergalatic star-scape, of course! We’ve seen that before. In that strange sequence at the end of 2001.

In these photos of Carine white nectarines (above) and Spring Bright yellow nectarines (below), in both cases the example on the left gets at what she is describing. The appearance of such heavy, contrasted dappling indicates the presence of sugars rising to the surface of the skin; always a good thing when it comes to fruit.

And that’s how you pick a good nectarine! It should smell fragrant, it should look like outer-space, and when you bite into it you should think:

My god. It’s full of stars.

Signs of Summer

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Today marks the first day of Summer 2011 and many signs of the season were on display at the Derby Street Market: fragrant basil, cherry tomatoes from Full Belly, summer squash and those knockout long stem Seascape strawberries from Lucero, and piles of “ripe shamefaced peaches” (had to get in a belated Bloomsday reference) at Blossom Bluff.

But one of the definitive signs that it is truly summer at the Derby Street market is the appearance of our friends from Dirty Girl Produce. And there they were! Right next to a freakin’ harp player!

Seems that Santa Cruz was not as waylaid by rain as it was last year, so most of Dirty Girl’s crops were planted on schedule. Their romanesco was looking particularly lovely today, as well as some smaller bunched broccoli. Coming up: beans. Lots and lots of beans (haricots vert, romano, cannellini, among others) should be arriving from Dirty Girl Produce within the next few weeks. And the official statement on dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes? ETA: 4-5 weeks.

Blossom Bluff Orchards – Profile

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Established in 1931

Owners

Ted and Fran Loewer

Great-grandparents Daniel and Babette Lichti originally purchased thirty acres of the farm in 1931 where they lived and raised their eight children. Their son Herb took over the farm in the 1940s. Herb bought an adjacent piece of property and with wife Elise they raised their three children and tended the farm. In 1980, Fran and Ted moved into their grandparents old farmhouse with their two children, Renata and Bryce.

Ted quickly made changes, both in farming and marketing practices.  He moved the farm from conventional to sustainable practices outlined by California Clean guidelines. In 2006, Blossom Bluff was certified organic by CCOF. Over the past twenty years, Ted raised the variety count from about twenty to over a hundred-ninety, often choosing heirloom vareities for flavor instead of durability.  He located direct outlets, including farmers markets and grocers, and Fran developed relationships with some of the Bay Area’s finest restaurants and bakeries.

Carrying the business into a fourth generation, their children, Bryce and Renata are both involved with marketing, managing accounts, & farmers’ markets.

Seasons

Busiest months are May – September.  Sell at farmers’ markets year round.

Technology

All fruit is hand picked and packed. No machines are used.

Challenges

Weather is a big concern for organic stone fruit growers in general.  A wet spring can be devastating for fruit durability.  On market days, the commute (3.5 hours) can be taxing.

Principles

It is important to the Loewers to keep the family farm running and work the rural/urban connection. They love meeting the people they sell their fruit to. The unique varieties they grow and sell interest and excite their customers.

Community Supported Agriculture

Blossom Bluff Orchards has just started a Summer Stone Fruit CSA in partnership with T&D Willey Farms. Email for more information: csa@tdwilleyfarms.com

Future Plans

Ted and Fran’s son Bryce recently bought his aunt’s house and property and is moving back to the farm. Their daughter Renata lives in Berkeley and manages the storage/warehouse and employees there.

Length of Relationship with Oliveto

20 years

Location

50 acres between Reedley and Sanger along the Kings River

Crops

Over 180 varieties of fruit including peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, pluots, apriums, persimmons, figs, pomegranates, oranges, citron, mandarins, and meyer lemons.

Organizations/Certification

CCOF

Farmers’ Markets

Berkeley Derby Street – Tuesday

Berkeley Downtown – Saturday

Oakland Grand Lake – Saturday

Oakland Temescal – Sunday

San Francisco Civic Center – Thursday

San Francisco Ferry Building – Saturday

Website

http://www.blossombluff.com/

February 10th, 2009|Blossom Bluff Orchards, Farmers|0 Comments