Cherries. Is there ever really enough of them?
During cherry season, EAT AS MANY CHERRIES AS POSSIBLE.
Sage advice from my father many years ago and I take this advice seriously.
Thanks to the recent Edible Institute that took place in Santa Barbara the weekend of March 16-17th, I got to try fresh oysters from Open Ocean Shellfish. They’re referred to as Hope Ranch oysters, as this is the area where they are cultivated, although they are specifically Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas). I have certainly eaten them at numerous restaurants in town, this was the first time I had them directly from the oyster farmers.
Our Hope Ranch oysters at Edible Institute were served alongside glasses of sparkling wine during a break. Delicious! Briney, with a little crispness to the bite. I only took one, to allow the visitors from farther away to eat more, I can always get some at the farmers market. And I did this past weekend.
Eat and enjoy! I had four raw, and two I threw briefly onto a skillet with some olive oil, then ate with the mignonette. Both good. Raw is better, of course. You can also slice off the little scallop piece that attached the oyster to the shell and eat that.
Open Ocean Shellfish sells at the Saturday morning Farmers Market, in the corner farthest from Santa Barbara and Cota Streets. 8:30 am – 12:30 pm. They also supply shellfish at the Fish Market at the Harbor.
When the warm season settles in, I start looking for tarragon at the farmers market. And when I start seeing it in lush bundles at BD’s Saturday market stand, that’s when I know that summer is here.
They sell it in bunches for a dollar, it’s usually more than I can use. One item I love making with it is green goddess dip. I got the recipe from Sandrine years ago, I first had it during a backyard bbq she hosted in celebration of her husband’s birthday and the full blue moon. Looking back at the calendar, I realize it was exactly five years ago, to this day.
Green Goddess Dip
3/4 Cup sour cream (can use Labneh yoghurt instead)
Mix the sour cream and mayonnaise together, smoothing out any lumps.
Eating in with one of my favorite foods, eggs.
Poached egg and asparagus.
Peacock farm eggs. Asparagus from that stall that always has asparagus and artichokes. Tamworth bacon from C’est Cheese.
Heaven. Even when eaten over the sink.
What a stroke of luck. Rob and I were already planning to explore the Hillcrest Farmers Market on this sunny day, but first went to breakfast in the gaslamp.
While we were there, I touched bases with Daniel, a cocktail acquaintance from my last trip to San Diego. We weren’t able to meet up for breakfast, but did stop into his new home in the gaslamp to say hello. By coincidence, he was heading to the farmers market as well, and dropped the win hint: amazing oysters could be had at the market.
Sold! We had our rendezvous at the market stall for Carlsbad Aquafarm, and feasted of a pile of freshly shucked oysters. They were $2 each.
They were crisp, every so slightly briny, smooth tasting and only needed the slightest drop of lemon juice to bring everything together into a juicy creamy mouthful of a delicious ocean bounty.
An unexpected highlight, fo sho. Jopsy joined us as well and popped a few oysters. When did I start loving oysters so much?
Hillcrest Farmers Market
Lovely and delicious Thomspon seedless grapes. All this for about $2, from the Saturday morning market! I snacked on them all week.
Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market
Look at this amazing display of Solanaceous produce!
I took this photo at the Saturday farmers market. I do not recall what farm this came from.
Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market
A couple friends have been gushing about the beans at Roots Farm, from the Saturday and Tuesday farmers market. I was on my pinquito kick and by the time I was interested, they were nearly sold out, or not bringing them to the market when there was a chance of rain.The beans appeared today, just a few pounds when I made it to the stand, and I bought the whole lot!
Dried, they vary in color from a deep bluish black, to pale brown. Cooked, they change to a more consistent dark brown, but retain a little variation.
More experimentation required.
I have to give a big shout out to Shepherd Farm, who sets up shop in the middle of the Saturday farmers market, the first aisle along the Cota side. I believe he comes to the Tuesday evening market, but I’ve lately only been going to the Saturday market.
It’s used in the classic Santa Maria style tri-tip meal, and unsurprisingly are called Santa Maria style beans, very similar in flavor to ranch style beans or bbq beans.
The pinquitos are cute, pink, firm, and small. They cook up fast because of their size, and even faster because Shepherd’s are so fresh, grown in Carpinteria. They’re sold by weight, $4 a pound.
He sells several types of beans, and the big bins of them are down to bits and pieces by the end of the market. But I am all over the pinquitos, as they are not commonly available like pintos or kidneys outside of the area.
Btw, Shepherd Farms also has a CSA program.
Here is my Santa Maria style pinquito beans, adapted from Recipezaar.
Santa Maria style pinquito beans
* 1 lb pinquito beans, dried
Pick over beans to remove dirt and small stones; cover with water and let soak overnight in a large container. Drain.
Saturday at the market is a highlight of the week. Not only is it an opportunity to do the weekly shopping, but it’s a social hub as well. Many of my friends go to the market, and every Saturday morning I expect to hear my phone bleep with “Market @ 10?”
When gasoline prices went up in 2009, the cost of produce at the market was actually less than grocery stores, in addition to having locally grown organic produce that is more nutritious, tastes better and supports the local community.
Santa Barbara has a 12 month growing season, so there’s always a good selection of produce available. And flowers, too. And music! I love the market.
Farmers Market – Saturday