Summer may be just about over, but as the good weather lingers here in the Bay Area, it’s a good time to get out for a visit with farmers from near and far, shop at your local farmers market, and cook up some vegetables from root to shoot.
Special note: This issue marks the addition of restaurant reviews to our bi-weekly e-newsletter! Please pass the word and help us encourage more readers to sign up for East Bay Appetizer!
City Slicker Farms Bike Tour
Saturday September 14, 1pm
Join the volunteer staff at City Slicker Farms for a cycling tour of the nonprofit’s four community market farms, including the new West Oakland Urban Farm and Park. Along the route, you’ll get to see how urban farmers adapt to different spaces and conditions to create healthy environments where food can be grown for people in the neighborhood. The 3-mile tour involves cycling through typical city traffic, but moving in a pod makes it a whole lot safer. You’ll be with enthusiastic folks, including trip leaders Ariel Dekovic and Abbey Myszka, who are both City Slicker Farms volunteers and bike enthusiasts.
RSVP is required. Please email email@example.com or call 510.763.4241. The route and map will be sent to those who reserve a spot. Suggested donation of $10 will be collected at the tour. (No one will be turned away due to lack of funds.)
Meet the Basque Farmers
Wednesday September 25, 7pm
La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley
Admission is free.
Saturday September 28, 6pm
Valley Ford in West Marin
America may no longer be building its empire, but its systems promoting corporate production and over-consumption continue to ravage traditional local economies around the world. Activist organizations, such as the US Food Sovereignty Alliance and Oakland-based Food First support the efforts of communities to define their own food systems and policies and return power over those systems to the people who produce, distribute, and consume in their own localities.
Two opportunities to learn more about the work of these organizations are coming up next week when Food Sovereignty Tours (FST), a project of Food First, hosts members of EHNE-Bizkaia, the Basque Farmers’ Union on a tour of our region’s local food system, food justice movement, organic agriculture, and immigrants’ rights efforts. EHNE-Bizkaia has helped foster a vibrant local food system of small farmers and cooperative businesses in Spain’s Basque country. They are an 2013 honoree of the Food Sovereignty Prize and a founding member of Via Campesina, the international peasant movement that in 1996 coined the term “food sovereignty”
Saturday September 28, 6pm: An Evening with EHNE-Bizkia: dinner, music, and conversation in Valley Ford (West Marin).
Learn more and RSVP here. Proceeds from this special occasion will support the FST Scholarship Fund.
Perhaps you’ve seen people at your local farmers’ market paying for their produce not with bills and coins but with small, colorful tokens. These market-goers are participating in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), implemented in California as CalFresh, using their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to purchase tokens, which they may redeem for foodstuffs throughout the market. The program makes trips to the farmers’ market more affordable for low-income communities.
Market Match is the next step forward in the pursuit of maximum accessibility. In farmers’ markets with Market Match programs, EBT recipients’ spending is matched 50 to 100 percent, thus incentivizing low-income families to shop at farmers’ markets and spend their federal benefits on fresh nuts, fruits, and vegetables.
The Ecology Center, which operates four farmers’ markets in the Berkeley/Albany area, will be rolling out a Market Match pilot program on October 1 to provide a dollar-for-dollar match of federal nutrition assistance to farmers’ market shoppers of up to $10 per market visit. Other farmers’ market associations throughout the East Bay, such as Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association, Phat Beets, and Agricultural Institute, have their own similar programs. All three of these groups operate the program under council of the Market Match Consortium, in which the Ecology Center assumed a coordinating and oversight role earlier this year.
The Edible East Bay online farmers’ market list, found here, includes information about which farmers’ markets have EBT and Market Match, as well as the WIC (Women, Infants, Children) program. More information on the Ecology Center programs can be found at ecologycenter.org.
Review by Kristina Sepetys
Look around you at any farmers’ market and you’re likely to spot several chefs seeking inspiration and ingredients among the heaps of beautiful fresh produce. Among them might be Fred and Elizabeth (Liz) Sassen, partners in life and co-owners of Homestead restaurant, newly opened on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland.
“We source from East Bay markets, mostly the Tuesday market at Adeline and Alcatraz,” says Liz Sassen. “We purchase a lot of items from Lucero Organic Farms and also use Full Belly Farms frequently for tomatoes, melons, and Padrón peppers among other things. Blue Heron has the best baby green onions, great herbs, radishes, and lettuces. We like Brokaw avocados. Frog Hollow, Blossom Bluff, and Woodleaf Organic all have great stone fruit. Dirty Girl and Riverdog farms also have great produce.”
She adds that they don’t limit themselves to the vendors selling at the Tuesday market. “Happy Boy and Star Route also supply us with a lot of produce. We really gravitate toward growing relationships with the people behind these farms and getting their firsthand view of what is good and peaking now, and what is coming down the pipe, to help us plan our menus. We also source our meat with care. Our pork is from Long and Bailey Family Farms in Manteca, California, just east of the Bay Area. We really like their Duroc pigs.”
Housed in a 1920s Julia Morgan building, Homestead welcomes diners into a light, airy space built out with natural woods and colored with craftsman greens. The 30-year old executive chef, Fred Sassen, was formerly at Camino, and Elizabeth Sassen was previously at Farallon and Waterbar. Their menu changes frequently to feature the best ingredients the season and region offer, highlighted with the Sassen’s house-made vinegars, select cheeses, ice cream, and savory and sweet preserves.
Typical of their style is a recent offering of salmon over summer panzanella. “The salmon this week was caught on the fishing vessel Roxanne outside of Bodega Bay,” explains Liz. “We serve it with a salad made from sourdough bread made in Oakland by Firebrand, heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers from Lucero Organic Farms, and grilled green onions from Blue Heron, all dressed lightly with our house red wine vinegar and olive oil produced in Tehama County.”
Root to Stalk
Review by Kristina Sepetys
Produce from the farmers’ market, a CSA, or your garden is usually so much more lush and bountiful than what you find at big supermarkets. Freshly cut or dug with full, robust greens, firm stalks, and long, curled roots, the vegetables still smell of the soil that nurtured them. You can almost feel the warm sunshine on the leaves. These full-bodied fruits and vegetables are so beautiful, you don’t want to waste anything. But sadly, I often do. Without inspiration or instruction, I sometimes find myself at a loss for creative ways to use the lovely and nutrient-rich parts that most often are discarded: feathery carrot greens or fennel tops, for instance, or those robust peppery leaves of the radish.
So I’m delighted for all the inspiration in the new book, Root to Stalk Cooking: The Art of Using the Whole Vegetable, from San Francisco Chronicle food writer Tara Duggan, who provides 65 recipes. Readers will enjoy close-up, appetizing photography by Clay McLachlan and nearly 200 pages of tips and guidance for transforming trimmings into tasty dishes and drinks like Apple Peel Bourbon, Beet Greens Strata, and Chard Stalk Hummus. Duggan says in the introduction, “This book will show you how to waste less, discover new depths of flavor, and save a little money by thinking different about the produce you grow or buy.”
From Root to Stalk Cooking by Tara Duggan,
used by permission from Ten Speed Press
5 anchovy fillets
3 tablespoons capers (soaked in water if salted), drained
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
Tops from 1 bunch carrots (about 3 cups coarsely chopped), washed well and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh oregano or other tender herbs,
such as chives, fennel fronds, or marjoram
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound fingerling or small Yukon gold potatoes, halved
1 bunch carrots, peeled or scrubbed and halved lengthwise
1 pound parsnips or turnips, cut into long wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
To make the salsa verde, place the anchovies, capers, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the carrot tops, rosemary, oregano, thyme, red chile flakes, and lemon juice and process until finely chopped. With the processor running, gradually pour in the olive oil through the feed tube and puree until very smooth. Season to taste with pepper and more lemon juice, if you like. (The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for 2 days before serving.)
To make the roasted vegetables, preheat the oven to 400°
Place the potatoes, carrots, and parsnips in a large bowl with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat, then spread the vegetables out in a single layer on two rimmed baking sheets with the potatoes cut-side down. Roast until the vegetables are tender and golden, 30 to 40 minutes, flipping the potatoes and stirring the other vegetables halfway through and removing vegetables as they are done.
Serve the vegetables warm, drizzled with some of the salsa verde.