New Discoveries At The Market

Those of us who live in the valley rarely encounter dry farmed tomatoes. Our summers are simply too hot for this technique to be used effectively. The technique requires a more temperate climate zone like those found in California’s coastal regions. For the plants to be considered truly dry farmed, theyDSC00884 are watered only once at the beginning of the season. The beds are flooded with water which slowly percolates through the soil. After the top layer of soil has dried, the crust is broken, and the remaining moisture is wicked down to the root of the plant. This method of farming stresses the plant, forcing all of it’s energy into reproduction. The fruit tends to be smaller and ripening can stall until well into September, October, and even November. We, in the valley, have such a glut of world class tomatoes, its easy to dismiss the fruit of other growing areas. I’m new to dry farmed tomatoes. I stumbled on them at the Monterey Market in Berkeley and again at the farmer’s market in Santa Cruz. When our local tomatoes are beginning to fade in color and flavor, these tomatoes can be at their peak. The last batch I purchased, from Dirty Girl Farms, are the best tomatoes I’ve had this season…or possibly any season. The flavor is concentrated, intense, and they explode with sweet juice. They are extraordinary. If you have an opportunity to visit the bay area markets, look for these. It’s not too late!

Every year about this time, we begin making soups of winter squash. Of all the soups we make throughout the year, they are always the most requested and highly revered. In the past few years they’ve become so ubiquitous, I’ve wondered if our guests would simply get bored with them. After sitting down to a bowl for lunch at the Esquire Grill, I was reminded why it’s held in such high esteem. Because it’s delicious! A bowl of earthy, sweet, satisfying, soul warming, velvety goodness, never goes out of style. Although Butternut squash is the variety we almost always use for making soups, there’s another variety you should look for. Delicata is a smaller, cylinder shaped squash striped in varying shades of tan, orange, red, and green. It retains a much firmer texture after cooking allowing the cook to combine it with other vegetables or to serve it as an accompaniment to meat, fish, or poultry. For an ultra simple side dish, try this:Delicata
– Peel 2 small Delicata squash, scoop out the seeds, and trim the ends.
– Cut the squash in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2″ thick half moons.
– Place the squash in a large saute pan along with a small red onion, peeled and cut into 6 wedges, and a peeled apple cut into thick wedges.
– Toss everything with generous amount of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, tossing occasionally to ensure even cooking.
– When everything is tender and nicely caramelized, serve hot as a side vegetable or let cool to room temperature, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and serve as a first course.


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