On the menu this week…

cranberrybeans_450ON THE MENU:

Pan-roasted chicken rolata with braised Lacinato kale, King Trumpet mushrooms, and chicken sugo

Vitello tonnato
classic Northern Italian cold veal with tuna sauce

Charcoal-grilled local pole-caught Albacore with fresh Cranberry beans, eggplant puree, cherry tomatoes, and Armenian cucumber


This week’s aged wines by the glass:

Barbaresco, “Riserva,” Barale 1999

Barolo, “Vigna Castellero,” Barale, 1999


2017-09-12T15:47:15-07:00August 22nd, 2014|Market Reports, Summer|0 Comments

First Tomatoes

Average temperatures out in Yolo County have been hot but not too hot (95 degrees during the day, low 70s at night) which is great for summer produce. Lots of stuff hitting the market (and the menu) this week including Cranberry beans, zucchini, corn, egglant, and YES, tomatoes! Mainly cherry tomatoes but also our first Early Girls from Riverdog Farm. Chef Rhodehamel has been dehydrating these, then lightly smoking and serving them in a traditional southern Italian dish:

Cavatelli with Santa Barbara sea urchin, smoked Early Girl tomatoes, Calabrian chili, and parsley

Also decidedly summer:

Soup of Brentwood corn with salsa of cherry tomatoes, Jalapeño pepper, and basil

Charcoal-grilled shrimp-stuffed squid with eggplant puree, fresh Cranberry beans, and marinated cherry tomatoes

2017-09-12T15:47:19-07:00June 27th, 2014|Market Reports, Summer|0 Comments

Stone fruit from Blossom Bluff


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


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


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



Apricot sorbetto

Blossom Bluff aprium crostata with almond ice cream

Oven-roasted Regina peach with shortcake and fennel pollen

2013 Tomato Season: Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

Dirty Girl Produce at South Berkeley Farmers' Market 9/10/13

Dirty Girl Produce at South Berkeley Farmers’ Market 9/10/13

This really has been a record year for tomatoes. Here we are well into September, the Tomato Dinners having ended almost three weeks ago, and the farmers’ markets are still overflowing with delicious tomatoes. This year’s peak is actually more of a plateau, where there are amazing dead ripe tomatoes available for weeks on end, due in most part to the steady heat we’ve had. Of particular note are those incredible dry-farmed Early Girls from Dirty Girl Produce. We know we’ve mentioned these before but this year’s crop is exceptional.

We dropped by the Berkeley farmers’ market yesterday to chat with Sales Manager, Stella Araiza about why this year’s tomatoes are just so darn good.

Turns out two waves of tomatoes were planted this year on a newer plot of land in Watsonville that has super rich soil. Because the soil is so rich, the plants continue to flower and flower, producing more and more tomatoes! Because tomato plants really need to be stressed to get that intense flavor, in Stella’s words the soil may actually be ‘too good’.

The first wave peaked right in time for the 2013 Tomato Dinners at Oliveto. The second wave of plantings is just now coming to harvest and the tomatoes are pretty big…bigger than what you normally would expect from an Early Girl. Stella said the first tomatoes in a wave are always a little on the big side, but again, because the soil is so good these big Early Girls are even bigger than usual. They still taste a whole lot better than your average tomato, but they don’t have that super condensed vibrancy the smaller Early Girls are known for. By the end of this week the second wave should be in full swing and there will be less size variation…

First of the second wave...Dirty Girl Produce 9/10/13

First of the second wave…Dirty Girl Produce 9/10/13

but there are still A LOT OF TOMATOES. So many in fact that Dirty Girl will host its first ever Tomato U-Pick at their farm in Watsonville coming up on September 29th. Check their Facebook page for updates. In the meantime, Early Girls continue to grace the current Oliveto menu and probably will be showing up here and there well into October. On the menu this week:

Salad of heirloom and dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes with avocado, fresh Cayenne pepper, Armenian cucumber, and Parmesan cheese

Charcoal-grilled flatbread with dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes, house-made ricotta, Genovese basil, and Frantoio di Campagna olive oil

2017-09-12T15:47:36-07:00September 11th, 2013|Market Reports, Summer|0 Comments

Market Update: INTENSE Season equals INTENSE Produce


Although the weather has taken a cooler turn in the past week, the produce at the South Berkeley Farmers’ Market yesterday was the product of an unusually hot season that got off to an early start with a number of heatwaves that began back in May. Instead of a steady trickle of new harvests, things seem to be arriving all at once with peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, (all those heat-loving plants) taking the lead.

Melon display from Riverdog Farm - July 2013

Melon display from Riverdog Farm. July 2013

Not to be outdone, the melons this year are outrageous. Both Full Belly Farm and Riverdog Farm had incredible displays that heavily perfumed both ends of the market like fragrant book-ends. When asked to describe this year’s season, Judith Redmond blew a lock of hair from her forehead and said, “INTENSE.”

On the menu starting tonight:

Salad of Canary melon, Armenian cucumbers, anise hyssop, and 30-month prosciutto

Roast breast of hen with eggplant purée, Jimmy Nardello peperonata, and salmariglio

Yay summer!

This Just In: Tomato Season is Early; Tomato Pastas on the Menu

spaghettini with tomatoes

Spaghettini with Santa Barbara sea urchin, Full Belly Farm tomato, pancetta, and hot pepper

We’re surprised, to say the least. Tomatoes, already?

After two years of late seasons, what do we see? These beautiful spaghettini and paccheri pasta dishes, both featuring ripe tomatoes from Full Belly Farm. Just in time for the summer solstice.

It’s unusual to see tomatoes in June normally, but it’s even more startling to see tomatoes this good this early. It’s an exciting sign for us — the transition from a spring to summer menu has begun.

More updates to come as the season continues…and we work our way towards Tomato Dinners.

paccheripasta_with tomatoes
Paccheri with Full Belly Farm cherry tomatoes, eggplant, Calabrian chili, and smoked mozzarella

Call (510) 547-5356 or reserve online


Want to meet the woman behind the tomatoes and other amazing produce on the Oliveto menu?

Farmer Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm will be here, with her husband and partner Andrew Brait, on Monday, June 24, for a special, intimate dinner in our Siena Room. A couple spots are still open: Join us and enjoy a prix fixe menu full of peak Full Belly produce, plus a chance for conversation with one of our great local farm institutions.

See the full menu, pricing, and more details here.

Call (510) 547-5356 for reservations. Please note there will be one seating at 6:30pm.


2017-09-12T15:47:41-07:00June 20th, 2013|Market Reports, Summer|0 Comments

Market Report #8: Tomato Speculation With Bill Fujimoto

We hit up the Derby Street Market last Tuesday with our favorite produce guy, Bill Fujimoto.

We checked in with Full Belly, Lucero, and Riverdog and saw some BEAUTIFUL early eggplants, Black Eyed peas, first watermelons, and Seascape strawberries. We also got the scoop on what everyone is wondering about…TOMATOES. It was interesting to hear from our farmers about their predictions, especially for us, because we’re trying to “plan” as best we can for our upcoming Tomato Dinners.

Because the season this year has been so weird, and speculation about how the season may (or may not) unfold we’re trying something new: two sets of Tomato Dinners. The first set of Early Tomato Season Dinners will run from August 23 – 26, and then after Labor Day a second set of Late Tomato Season Dinners will run from September 13 through September 16.

From a chef’s perspective, great cooking is about responding to ingredients, and this season will be loaded with challenges for Chef Jonah. We’ll keep you updated on how the season(s) progress and what it means for Jonah as the menu begins to take shape.

August or September, there will be stand-out tomatoes to make each menu terrific. Book now.

2017-09-12T15:48:17-07:00August 1st, 2011|Market Reports, Summer|0 Comments

Signs of Summer


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.

Market Report #12: Tomatoes?

We’re seeing the first few trickles of tasty tomatoes, but not nearly what you’d expect for mid-August. We got some solid information from Bill about this year’s weird weather and how it has effected tomato crops in northern California.

In the hopes of things heating up in time for a late-late summer ripening, we’ve pushed back the dates for the 2010 Tomato Dinners to September. Fingers crossed.

2017-09-12T15:48:37-07:00August 23rd, 2010|Market Reports, Summer|0 Comments
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