The first batch of fresh pea shoots appeared at the farmers market!
A big bunch for just $1.50. These are delicious raw and cooked. Today, they were eaten in a lovely sandwich.
Ciabatta = Our Daily Bread
Sunday was a small and casual dinner at Jonah’s with a couple friends. Nicky was back from her trip to southern France and Switzerland and brought a lovely assortment of macaroons for us to try. I brought Jonah some peaches from my garden.
We ate tray-baked salmon, rice, and spinach with mushrooms. Nicky also brought a green salad. The wine of the evening was pinot grigio.
Afterwards, a showing of Young Frankenstein on an outdoor screen at the Wheelhouse downtown. Weather and company was perfect!
The Wheelhouse is currently showing a movie with bikes in it every Sunday evening. Show up at 8:30 pm, the film starts at 8:45, and people are encouraged to bring chairs, and also snacks and drinks to share. Information here!
The flurry of cooking over the weekend resulted in a surplus of food to be eaten. As luck would have it, I have friends who are willing to oblige.
Ooooh, my favorite of the night. A Fresh & Easy pork loin, roasted with Thai chile sauce, fresh minced garlic, fresh lemongrass from the garden and cracked black pepper. I threw in a teaspoon of fish sauce as well. Then thinly sliced up the lot and served it on lettuce with sprinkles of spring onion, mint and basil – all of which came from my garden or the gardens of friends. The pork loin was entirely consumed. This might just be my next ye olde standard for party grillin’s.
I love sharing food.
There is a long story about this dish, that I won’t get into. What I will say is that its influences come from having fresh local ingredients on hand, and some guy named Chris Skinner that I’ve never met.
Over the weekend I found myself with 10 ounces of fresh fusilli pasta, bought at the Saturday farmers market in downtown Santa Barbara, and a packet of pancetta from Fresh and Easy. I whipped up the dish in less than 30 minutes, using a recipe provided by the above mysterious C. Skinner, with a few alterations.
1 Tb butter
Add butter and oil to a large skillet or pan, on medium heat. When the butter stops foaming, add chopped garlic, as much as you want.
Add chopped pancetta to pan.
Meanwhile, set some salted water for pasta on to boil, and boil the pasta until al dente.
Once the pancetta has released its fat, turn the heat down, and add the chopped onion, and chopped fresh rosemary to taste. Cook until the onion is transparent, but not browned.
Add 1/4 cup white wine and bring to a boil. I used some Bonny Doon Pacific Rim riesling.
Turn the heat back down to low and SLOWLY stir in the half and half, and the yoghurt. Do not cook this, just stir to mix and heat it through.
Add the peas to heat through, perhaps 5 minutes.
Add drained, cooked pasta to the carbonara sauce.
Toss, add grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, up to 1/4 cup.
Serve in bowls, sprinkle with additional chopped rosemary, salt & pepper to taste, and with more parmigiano-reggiano in a bowl to pass around.
Notes: the recommended recipe used cream, and also chicken. I had neither, hence my alterations. I also forgot to add the peas. No big, it tasted fine.
Finally, it is preferred that you don’t drop your serving on the floor, so I don’t have to give up half of my portion, but sometimes these things happen. If the above occurs, set the nearest dog to tidy up the mess.
Update to my first post.
You’d think a big market made up of many small vendors would not accept credit cards.
I would like to say that for the Saturday morning market in downtown Santa Barbara, this is not true.
The vendors don’t have the gear to process credit cards, but at the entrance near Cota and Anacapa, there is a market organization stand, and you can use a credit card there to purchase market tokens, which can be used to buy goods from all the vendors at the market, like cash.
No need to fret anymore about needing cash for the Saturday market, it’s all taken care of. I used this option today and it worked out great. Bought myself $20 of grass fed beef sirloin and pot roast that I would not have been able to purchase if there was no cc option.
The Saturday market is where the natives go. Equal amounts of folk in Juicy Couture track bottoms and Uggs alongside hemp hippies. And everyone has their own basket to lug around their purchases.
Your basket is your trophy that you hold aloft and shout that you don’t use those nasty plastic bags.
The items sold here cost more than most grocery stores, but they are locally made and organic. I am happy to pay for good stuff like that.
Most often you can sample the fruit and veg before you buy. Fruit stands especially are prepared for this with slices already set out for you to try. When peach and plum season is here, like it is now, it’s so nice to wander down the aisle, tasting and tasting until you find the perfect one. And then you buy lots and gorge yourself.
There’s also a market on Sundays at Camino Real Marketplace, two markets on Wendesdays at La Cumbre Plaza and Solvang Village, two on Thursdays at Calle Real in Goleta and Linden in Carp, and one on Friday on Coast Village Road in Montecito (lots of flowers available at this one). These others aren’t as big as the Saturday and Tuesday downtown ones, and not nearly the social hub as downtown either.
In recent years the market has started to allow vendors who sell finished goods. So now there’s cheese and baked items.
Some places that I like:
* Coleman Farms. Nothing fancy, just a good variety of vegetables and herbs. A family business and really sound people.
* BD’s stand with all those great herbs. I think one guy there is also named Shobe? They are my only local source for seasonal tarragon. And the folks that work there are great. That blond dreadlocked surfer dude, what a character. He’s so into the produce, I love it.
* The asian woman with the low table with a few oriental items, like bok choy and ginger. She doesn’t display this well, but she sells the one item I consider to be the most unique at the market. Dried sweet potato. It’s like dried mango, but not cloyingly sweet. One friend describes it as eating little clouds, but that’s talking up the texture too much. Honestly I’ve gotten a couple batches that were so chewy I thought I’d break a tooth. Just be prepared to do a little chewing and you’ll be fine.
* The man who sells bagged lettuce, but as baby heads. About $1.50 a bag, your choice of a sweet mix or a spicy mix. Because they are still intact heads, they stay fresh and crunchy longer. I hate it when I buy a bag of cut lettuce and it starts going bad in two days. I always get my lettuce from this fellow, he sells them year-round since he harvests them small. Sometimes he has basil, really fat and robust and super aromatic.
* The artichoke and asparagus stand. Lovely stuff, reasonably priced.
* The stonefruit stand at the lower State Street end of the Tuesday market. Your pick of peaches, apricots, plums, pluots or whatever is in season, usually for one standard price per pound. Today it was $2.50 to mix and match. Nice guys there.
* Solvang Pie Company, although I think their bread items are far better than the pies, and aren’t played up enough. Good, recognizable ingredients, fair prices, and they even grow their own wheat in Santa Ynez. Baguette is $2.50, the foccacia is just dripping with yummy olive oil – a big piece of this bread is $4.
There’s oodles more, but everyone’s gotta figure out their own favorite places. Don’t forget your basket!