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
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
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.
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!
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.