Between being in Southern California for 10 days and going to Sea Ranch for New Year's, I feel like I was in San Francisco for about 5 minutes last week.
As is the usual case when I've been out of town, I went to a farmers' market as soon as I could. Even when I don't need anything, going to a farmers' market grounds me and makes me feel like I'm home. Last week, the market of choice was the Thursday San Rafael Farmers' Market, and the cohort of choice was Stephanie.
The market last week was pretty unique. Many farmers were absent, having taken off the week between Christmas and New Year's, and many customers were missing. We spent much more time at the market than I expected -- mostly because it was so quiet that we were able to have long, leisurely conversations with some of the farmers. Everyone was chatty and in a good mood despite the fact that business was slow.
We ran into Jessica Boncutter, the chef at Bar Jules. She was talking to Dave Little of Little Organic Farm and I had to stop myself from gushing over her and how excited I am to try her restaurant. We spoke briefly and she went on her way. (We were especially excited to see her leave the market, laden with veggies, in her City Car Share Prius. She car shares! Just like me!)
We spoke with the farmer at De Santis farm and found out that she is expecting to be selling Bergamot oranges within the next couple of weeks.
My favorite purchase at the market on Thursday was organic Brussels sprouts from Orchard Farms, a farm located in Sebastopol. "Organic sprouts are hard to find," I commented to the farmer. "I'm the only one I know who has them," he replied.
I've heard from other farmers that organic Brussels sprouts are especially difficult to grow. So it's pretty unusual to find them, and when I do, they definitely aren't as pretty as conventional sprouts. These sprouts were pricey at $6 per pound, but I purchased a pound and brought them home.
Brussels sprouts are best eaten when they are small and young. According to Jeff Cox in The Organic Cook's Bible, they're difficult to find in this size outside of farmers' markets.
"Most Brussels sprouts are frozen and sold by packers, and they want sprouts that are between the standard 3/4 and 1 3/8 inches. Sprouts for the fresh market tend to be the frozen market's rejects -- bigger, older, stinkier, and tougher."
With the chaos of the past couple of days, I forgot that I had them in the fridge until today. Always susceptible to the blog posts of friends, I read Cookicrumb's post about her New Year's Day meal and remembered my sprouts. Though I didn't recreate her dish as planned, I sauteed them up and had them for lunch along with some Rancho Gordo Cellini Runner Beans (sauteed with olive oil, garlic and sage).
The great news is that we San Franciscans now have an additional farm which will be selling organic brussels sprouts: Swanton Berry Farm! I've been told that last week was the first week they were available, and they will have a few available at their Ferry Plaza booth (not sure about other markets) as they roll out this new crop.