This Just In: Morels Update, Ramps, Fava Beans, Peas…

H. Krisp, via Wikimedia Commons

The morel season is just getting started, and within a week or two it will really explode. This will be a good year for morels — there have been plenty of forest fires, and if it doesn’t stay too dry we can probably expect to see them through July.

Currently, Chef Jonah has a limited amount of morels from the Mt. Shasta area: they are on the menu (as long as they last) in a dish of poached hen egg, potato hash cake, ramps, and asparagus. Keep an eye out for more in the next few weeks!

As far as spring goes, we are seeing our favorites all over the farmers’ markets, and subsequently, the Oliveto dinner menu. Favas, ramps, snow peas, asparagus…it’s a real springtime menu now, as shown with dishes like the antipasto of English peas, asparagus, and ramps with burrata and basil pesto.

burrata and basil peburrata and basil pesto
2017-09-12T15:47:45+00:00 April 22nd, 2013|2013, Market Reports, Spring, This Just In|0 Comments

Season Update: Strawberries!

Yerena Farm out in Watsonville had their first pick of the season on display last week at The Heart of the City Farmer's Market in San Francisco, and expect a good season.

First pick of the season berries from Yerena Farm in Watsonville

Thanks to the warm and relatively dry spring, strawberries are slowly starting to make their appearance in farmer’s markets around the Bay Area. California produces over 80% of the nation’s strawberries, and we can’t wait to get our hands on them.

Our friends Karen and Bob at Lucero Organic Farm in Lodi say the berries they planted in December are just around the corner from being ready. Karen predicts in a week they’ll be at farmer’s market in Berkeley, with the high season hitting in May.

Lucero grows Seascape strawberries, a small and flavorful breed, which like most strawberries grown in California was developed by the UC Davis Strawberry Breeding Program. The farm lets the plants “struggle,” which means the plants have to search hard in the soil for nutrients. This gives the berries a lot of really good flavor with a distinct sweetness. As the season progresses, the plants “struggle” more, and their berries get smaller and sweeter. Karen loves to crush them up and put them in milk, like a strawberry milkshake without all the sugar.

Look for strawberries at Oliveto menu in the coming weeks — once Chef Jonah finds the perfect flat of ripe berries, you can bet they’ll be appearing on the menu.

2017-09-12T15:47:45+00:00 April 8th, 2013|2013, Market Reports, Spring|0 Comments

Organic Citrus: Fingers Crossed

via Wikimedia Commons

It’s been a tense year for citrus growers since a case of Huounlongbing (HLB) disease was detected on a Los Angeles backyard pomelo tree in March 2012. HLB, though harmless to humans, is deadly to citrus trees. The disease is spread through the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP), an aphid-like pest, which been found in groves throughout the Southern US, Mexico, and many other countries.

So far, no new cases of HLB have been reported, but the ACP pest has been found in groves in San Bernadino, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, and Imperial counties, where it is currently under eradication. In November 2012, ACP was found in the San Joaquin Valley, resulting in a quarantine. Eradicating the ACP pest is only possible through tree removal, new planting of uninfected trees, and, of most concern to organic growers, heavy use of pesticides.

We recently had a talk with our friend Bill Fuijmotothe go-to man for produce, and he shared a few insights on what we might expect for the future of organic citrus in California.

Since ACP and HLB are so devastating, and in fact have almost wiped out Florida’s citrus industry, California citrus farmers at risk for infection will be taking every precaution to protect their groves. Since this might include heavy insecticide sprays, Bill says if ACP continues to spread, organically grown California citrus may become hard, or even near impossible, to find in the coming years.

Citrus farmers like Jim Churchill and Lisa Brenneis of Churchill Orchards in Ojai have so far been unaffected by ACP, but say they remain worried, especially after nearly losing their tangerine crop to freeze this year.

We will keep our fingers crossed and our eyes open.

***

If you have citrus trees, learn to spot the signs of ACP and HLB, and report possible symptoms to the California Department of Food and Agriculture with their “Save Our Citrus” app.

2017-09-12T15:47:46+00:00 April 1st, 2013|Market Reports, Spring|0 Comments

This Just In: Spring!

via Wikimedia Commons

Last year, heavy rainstorms and wet weather delayed the start of spring until late April for some farms. However, this year has proven warm and dry, and our friend/produce expert Bill Fuijmoto reports that farms all over California — especially in the Delta, Sacramento, the Capay Valley, and Salinas — are looking forward to a great season.

As the season continues to unfold (the equinox is in two days!), you’ll see a fundamental shift in the Oliveto menu as we transition from a hearty winter to a glorious produce-packed spring. Already we’re starting to welcome fresh familiar flavors like new asparagus, spring onions, and fava greens.

In the south, at our friend Martin Bournhonesque’s farm in Monterey, warm weather has already brought the season’s first asparagus and spring onions. You’ll find these tender signs of spring at Oliveto in dishes like Chef Jonah’s Hedgehog mushroom salad, conchiglie with smoked trout, and involtino of Swiss chard.

Also on the menu are fresh fava greens from Tairwa’-Knoll Farms in Brentwood. Chef Jonah has paired them with pan-roasted striped bass with onion crema, spring onions, asparagus, and black truffle-poultry sugo for a real taste of the burgeoning season.

Make reservations online for dinner, or call us at 510.547.5356.

2017-09-12T15:47:47+00:00 March 18th, 2013|Market Reports, Spring|0 Comments

Market Report #5: Lucero Seascape Strawberries

Lucero_strawberries_2011

They’ve arrived.

Yesterday, we saw the first wave of the Lucero Organic Farm’s amaaazing long stem Seascape strawberries at the Derby St. market in Berkeley. Karen Lucero showed up at 2 p.m. when the market opened, and was sold out within three hours.

Ben Lucero has been growing this same variety of strawberry for years, even after he moved his farm inland from the coast to Lodi. Ben believes that great strawberries are the product of close attention and judicious watering, not a certain variety, location, or climate. As a result, Lucero strawberries are a concentration of bright, vibrant flavor. And a favorite of the Oliveto kitchen.

Fortunately, we were able to snap up a few flats & Chef Jonah has them on the menu already:

Crudo of fluke with basil, strawberry, and almonds; lemon agrumato

Market Report #4: Favas, peas, artichokes, and goat!

baby artichokes

Lots of spring firsts at the Derby Street market yesterday. English peas were in full effect at a number of different stands. As were strawberries, asparagus, and the first baby Fava beans…tender enough that you can eat the shell and everything. Chef Jonah and Chef de Cuisine Malachi bought up some lovely purple asparagus and baby artichokes from Riverdog Farm. Starting tonight, most of these things will be on the menu for the next few days:

Salad of spring vegetables with shaved purple asparagus, arugula, and farro

Sauté of young Fava beans in their pods with garlic and fried shallots

Roast hen rolata with fried baby artichokes

Pan-roasted Alaskan halibut with asparagus, baby fava beans and English peas; chervil-spumante sauce

Also of note, just yesterday we received two young goats from Jeannie McCormack. Goat will be on the menu starting on Friday and through the weekend in the following dishes:

Red Flint corn polenta with ragù of goat heart

Roasted goat chop with tenderloin fritto, whey-braised shoulder, eucalyptus scented peas and new potatoes

2017-09-12T15:48:24+00:00 April 20th, 2011|Market Reports, Spring|0 Comments

Market Report #3: Late Spring

fb_flowers

Everyone is out and about in their shirtsleeves, but market wise, spring’s a little late this year. We visited the Derby Market on Tuesday and talked to Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm in Yolo who said that due to the late rains, the ground has been too wet to work. Finally, this past week, they have been able to get new plantings in the ground. So it will probably be another few weeks before we see full blown spring produce at most of the markets. The asparagus has been good so far, but other early perennials such as strawberries haven’t quite hit their mark yet.

Rumor has it there was one box of peas at the Full Belly stand, but they were all gone within an hour.

2017-09-12T15:48:25+00:00 April 15th, 2011|Full Belly Farm, Market Reports, Spring|0 Comments

Market Report #8: Stone Fruit and Rain Delays

We headed inside for this week’s report because it was just too darn rainy and cold. Bill showed us some of the best (i.e. crunchiest) cherry varieties currently available at farmers’ markets and local supermarkets. He also makes some predictions about what all this rain means for the upcoming summer crops (e.g. don’t count on serving corn for Father’s Day).

At the restaurant, we’ve been collecting information on how this year’s super-saturated spring has effected some of our farmers and we plan on posting their reports some time next week.

In the meantime, Happy Memorial Day!

2017-09-12T15:48:43+00:00 May 27th, 2010|Bill Fujimoto, Market Reports, Spring|0 Comments

Market Report #7: Ferry Plaza

Last Saturday we hit the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market with Bill Fujimoto. And no, we didn’t suffer a caterpillar attack. That fuzzy business in the upper right hand corner is due to some unfamiliar equipment. Apologies for the distraction. Moving onward…

As the spring rains have finally started to subside (at least for today), many crops are just now beginning to get their first exposure to serious heat, which in turn leads to superlative flavor. A great example of this are the Seascape strawberries from Lucero Farm. Another great example of this is Pastry Chef Jenny Raven‘s Seascape strawberry ice cream.

2017-09-12T15:48:43+00:00 May 20th, 2010|Bill Fujimoto, Market Reports, Spring|0 Comments