For those of you not familiar with the broad selection of produce that our farmers' market vendors brave the cold (and sometimes rain) to bring to us every week, here are some of my favorites (including vendors at the Mountain View and downtown Palo Alto farmers' markets that I frequent the most):
- Winter squash, such as butternut, acorn, kabocha, delicata, and carnival: They are all great roasted and pureed in soups, or as the main highlight of a risotto, or just roasted with olive oil and scooped right out of their shells. You can typically find them at several vendors in any farmers' market with some of my favorite vendors being Happy Boy Farms and High Ground Organics, both out of Watsonville, at the Mountain View farmers' market on Sunday, and Full Belly Farm out of Capay Valley at the Saturday downtown Palo Alto farmers' market.
- Apples, including honey crisp, gala, fuji, gravenstein, cameo and many more: I grew up shopping at grocery stores where there were just apples, always shiny and red. Sometimes, there were green apples in the store, but those always seemed odd to me and they were called "green apples", whereas the red ones were always just "apples". Having been introduced to perhaps a dozen variety of apples over the last few years (out of the 2,500 varieties grown in the US), I have come to appreciate more breadth and depth of this wonderful family of fruit. There are a number of vendors with a decent variety of apples. But for a real education, you can head to Prevedelli Farms at the Mountain View market or Hale's Apple Farm at the downtown Palo Alto market. In the fall and winter, they both have a constant rotation of at least half a dozen apple varieties in season, and in particular Prevedelli has a helpful staff, good signage and plentiful samples.
- Citrus, and in particular satsuma oranges: The disappearance of peaches, nectarines, plums and other stone fruit at the end of the summer is a sad time in our household, where my wife, daughter and I devour these fruits all summer long. We can hang on for a while on the longer seasons that strawberries sometimes offer, but we don't get really excited again until winter when citrus, and in particular satsumas, come back to the market. These seedless, easy to peel, tangy fruits are mistaken for candy in our household where I need to buy a few dozen to make it through the week. All through the winter, I buy big bags full of satsumas from Paul at Super Sweet at the Mountain View market with Sunny Cal at both the Mountain View and downtown Palo Alto markets coming through in a pinch when needed.
If you are not already taking advantage of the fact that we have some very high quality farmers' markets in the area, here's to hoping you can explore what we have to offer.