Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A Farmers' Market Feast

Pot Luck Chez Nous

Last weekend I invited some friends around for dinner. I have never done a potluck before, preferring to usually go to completely to town by cooking everything myself. But I just thought it would be a nice idea to have for my less-food-obsessed friends to think about using local ingredients, so I asked them all to bring along something with that criteria in mind.

My friend Vinny came to the Farmers Market on Saturday. He looked a little bit bored when I kept bumping into fellow food bloggers. We'd be having these conversations, about - you know, food blogging and stuff and his expression would glaze over. Poor Vinny, he must have thought we were speaking double dutch. Luckily he survived and ended up making a very nice pasta salad with swordfish and grapefruit from the ingredients he bought at the market.

photograph picture of some Early Girl Tomatoes from Dirty Girl at the Farmers Market, Ferry Building in San Francisco

Pim, who I bumped into at Dirty Girl, and who, contrary to popular belief, I am not at war with, told me the smallest tomatoes are the best, because tomatoes have to suffer to be good. I took her word for it and picked out the tiniest ones I could find. As I was intending to make slow roasted tomatoes again, removing the seeds from specimens so small turned out to be a little tiresome. That's when I had a brainwave. So this is my tip for any readers who intend to prepare something simalar: A grapefruit spoon with it's pointy end and serrated edges is the perfect implement for the tomato-deseeding job.

photograph picture of some figs from Knoll Farms stuffed with goat cheese

My second tip concerns figs. I bought a selection of Knoll Tairwa Farm's plump, ripe green, brown and black figs which I stuffed with Cowgirl chevre, drizzled with Balsalmic and roasted in the oven. The easiest way to get the goat cheese neatly inside the figs, I discovered, was to use a piping bag.

photograph picture of some watermelon radishes from Heirloom organics and some cucumber

No party would be complete without some food in the Becks & Posh signature colours of pink and green. Watermelon radishes not only look absolutely spectacular, they taste deliciously peppery too. I picked these ones up from Heirloom Organics. I presented them with sliced homegrown cucumbers that an anonymous samaritan kindly left in the kitchen at work last week.

photograph picture of some sticky medjool dates

My friend Penny loves Sticky Toffee Pudding so I wanted to surprise her and make some for the party. I picked up these sweet sticky medjool dates from the date guy at the market. I used the recipe in Jamie Oliver's most recent recipe book, Jamie's Dinners. This recipe was a sweet, sugary hit! I highly recommend that anyone who has this book gives it a try. Penny herself made some lovely open sandwiches with local marscapone and figs, contrasted by some prosciutto from a little bit further afield.

photograph picture of frog hollow peaches with brown sugar and basil butter

I read about a recipe for Peaches Roasted with Brown Sugar and Basil on Gluten-Free Girl's new food blog. They sounded so delicious, I simply had to make some before the peach season came to an end. I used Frog Hollow peaches, Knoll Tairwa Farm's basil and Straus butter. By the time they came out of the oven, everyone had already eaten too much and so I had some leftovers. No worries, they make a great breakfast dish, topped with a little St Benoit yoghurt. (I tried to persuade Mr Benoit to make some clotted cream for me, but he told me he is worried that it won't sell in California becasue everyone is on a health kick. Pah! Maybe I should start a campaign for health through feeding your inner spirit with delicious things. He did tell me, however, that he was thinking about making butter. So shhh, please don't tell the Californians that butter is just as fattening as clotted cream. Benoit butter is something I am now eagerly looking forward to!)

No more pictures, but other good things to tell you about. At last I made perfect gougere thanks to the recipe Brett kindly left in the comments section of my previous gougere post. This time I used the Award winning Bella Sorella/Serenita cheese from Three Sister's Farmstead. Although not the traditional gruyere, this strong, salty cheese made for wonderful gougere, believe me.

My friend Michael kindly bought a huge bagful of pastries made by John The Baker that he picked up from the Civic Center Farmer's Market. John makes the tarts at his home in Twin Peaks. These fruit tarts were all snapped up pretty quickly. I even witnessed some people go back for seconds.

I introduced my friends to the pleasures of the Fatted Calf. For the record, the Chorizo was much more popular than the Mortadella. The Fatted Calf are about to celebrate their two-year anniversary. I am sorry I can't make the party, but I'd like to send them a huge congratulations anyhow. I hope they have many more successful years of providing the Bay Area with delicious handmade charcuterie.

MB & D picked up a piping hot roasted chicken from Wholefoods on the way over to my place. This was gobbled up in no time. Cheeky D, was also seduced by a box of Annie's homegrown totally natural real Cheddar Bunnies at the checkout. They weren't exactly local but they were organic so he thought we'd approve. Shhh, please don't tell the Bunrabs that we ate a handful or two.

Last, but not least, S&D turned up, not only with a bun in the oven, but carrying a large, vibrantly coloured bowl of pasta salad too. The remaining guests, in fact all the guests, (there were 16 of us in total) brought plenty of local wines and drinks which ensured a fine time was had by all. Hey?! Where has all my Hangar One Raspberry Vodka gone? I thought I'd hidden it in the freezer...?

Locavores August Eat Local Challenge 2005

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A Farmers' Market Feast


  • At 30/8/05 07:54, Blogger Monkey Gland said…

    I thought the Guardian reviewer was excellent.

    whoops, everyone duck ;-)

  • At 30/8/05 08:04, Blogger Anthony said…

    Ha! Me "popular".

  • At 30/8/05 08:30, Blogger Pille said…

    That picture of your signature colours is amazing - I want some of that watermelon radish NOW!!!

  • At 30/8/05 08:32, Blogger Shauna said…

    Wow, everything looked gorgeous. I wish I could have been there. Thanks for mentioning the peaches--aren't they great? And what is wrong with my fellow countrymen? Clotted cream would be spectacular on those peaches for breakfast.

    p.s. I love the pink and green photo.

  • At 30/8/05 09:05, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    Yep, the pink and green.
    I'm pretty sure my invitation to your potluck must have been... oh, yes, here it it; it was apparently blown under the carpet by an unfortunate gust of wind. :(

  • At 30/8/05 09:19, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Clotted cream... If anybody would produce it in the States - or indeed double cream - I'd be there with bells on. Dairies here in New England don't even know what I'm talking about.

  • At 30/8/05 09:45, Blogger Joe said…

    Love the pink and green photo - very striking. The peaches look so good too!

  • At 30/8/05 12:09, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Delish, as usual!

    We just got our CSA delivery with some pink kohrabi, which would also make a gorgeous addition to your BnP crudite platter!

    Incidentally, you tell M. Benoit that I will happily purchase some clotted cream if he makes some for you!

  • At 30/8/05 13:16, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Glad to hear that gougère recipe worked for you! Next time, I'll have to try it with our local Serenita cheese, too. I'm acquainted with one of the Cowgirls (of the Creamery fame) and I'll ask if they'll consider making a clotted cream. I for one would buy it and sounds like there's a few people interested.

  • At 30/8/05 19:47, Blogger Greg said…

    I was at Jamie's visit to Copia as well, pre-blogger days, part of security detail. Jamie is a true gentleman as well a great chef.


  • At 30/8/05 21:27, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam --

    Lovely experience for all those who were lucky enough to gather. Because you're from over the pond you may not know about "progressive dinners" ---an American concept of the Fifties, when the chosen would move from house to house for consecutive courses. This is something I would love to see develop beyond the then favorite dishes like Jello salads,bastardized Continental accomplishments like beef Wellington, etc. It could be a wild gustatory treasure hunt, these days, and nobody would have the burden of hosting the entire feast.

    Meanwhile I loved the proffered dishes and I have to tell you that watermelon radishes are among my most-loved technicolor spicy jolts, always a pleasure. (Have you tried them on thin slices of baguette with sweet butter?)

  • At 31/8/05 07:57, Blogger Sam said…

    Lightning replies, sorry - or i will be late for work:

    MG - stop stirring!
    Anthony - who said huh?
    Pille - if you can get it, then get it!
    Shauna - I need to speak to Benoit again. Plus I think he meant CA not the rest of the country.
    C-Crumb - this was a strictly non-blogging party, except Michael and his blog really isnt about food so I let him off. If I have a bloggie party - your invite won't get lost in the wind, promise.
    Victor - lets start a campaign!
    Joe - fresh seasonal fruit and veg is simply the best!
    Jennifer - the figs are easy. they taste so good raw too. Dont forget the piping bag!
    Fatemeh - lets start a clotted cream campaign!
    Brett - love your resipe - thanks for having a word with the Cow girl. Let me know how you get on
    Greg - I just about fell in love with Jamie - what a genuine guy!
    Kudzu - i had heard the progressive thing - but ore to do with eating out.
    trouble is round here - everyone lives so far away from each other!
    I was thinking of serving the radishes with butter, but didn't - next time I will try that!

  • At 31/8/05 21:15, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love all the colours, so gorgeous!

  • At 1/9/08 19:23, Blogger Marianne said…

    Hi there! I just discovered your blog doing a google search - what a lovely discovery! I'm enjoying reading it very much - I'm relatively new to San Francisco so your restaurant recommendations are incredibly valuable! and I will be trying some of your recipes soon!


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