July 2010

La Jolla Farmers Market

Y’all know I absolutely adore farmers’ markets. The strawberries are sweeter, the lettuce more crisp, and the local farm eggs beyond fresh. This post is dedicated to farmers’ markets far and wide.

My first open-air market experience was in Santa Monica at the Third Street Promenade market but the best experience by far, was in Paris where the cold autumn air literally bursts with the aromas of fresh mint, parsley, earthy carrots (yes, carrots!!) and apples. Nothing seems to compare to the markets in Europe, but the ones here in the U.S. are pretty good too, without a doubt — namely, the one in La Jolla, which I’ve been going to regularly since I moved back to San Diego.

The tomatoes are beginning to emerge.

I’ve never cooked these before but I must try someday…

Stone fruits are peaking.

It gives me great happiness to go to the market, buy my citrus fruit and avocados and farm-fresh eggs, and rush home to eat it all. It’s almost like I’m giving myself medicine, it is that damn wholesome. The farm eggs, by the way, are the most amazing eggs you could ever eat. I was always aware of how they’re way more fresh than the ones you get at the supermarket but only recently did I find out for myself. The whites are as clear as water, and the yolks a vibrant yellow. You can notice how fresh they are when you fry them over-easy — the yolks run luxuriously and the whites are firm and bouncy. And with that, I end my ode to farmers’ markets! Stay tuned for more adventures…

Discovering beets

Sorry for the dry spell, everyone. I’m here! In this post, I will discuss beets.

Beets are a recent discovery for me. My few encounters with them have been at college dorm cafeterias or at Home Town Buffet — you know, the canned kind that are nicely julienned for your salad. But when I tasted Gordon Ramsay’s roasted beet salad a couple years ago during Dine L.A., I developed a far deeper interest in them. The beets were tender and earthy, the ricotta cheese that accompanied them, smooth and divine. But what truly sold me was the delicate sea salt sprinkled on top of it all, and that the salad was simply pretty to look at. It was time to better acquaint myself with beets.

An opportunity to cook them presented itself at a recent visit to the La Jolla Farmers Market, where I bought a small bunch of deep, red ones. Fellow beet cooks, don’t wear your new white Oxford shirt while preparing these guys. I was amazed at how concentrated in color they are. It felt like I murdered someone when I saw the magenta juice splash all over the cutting board. They’re also very beautiful. A cross-section of a beet looks like the wooden grain of a tree stump, don’t you think?

So as I embarked on my beet journey, a beet-lovin’ friend kindly advised me on how to cook them. He said they’re great roasted, so that is what I decided to try. He also pointed out that you could eat the greens too.

Carefully wash the leafy tops and saute them in olive oil with salt and pepper. Just that. You can add some minced garlic if you want to jazz it up a bit but these greens are robust enough to stand on their own with good ol’ S and P.

As for roasting them, wash and peel the tough skins, toss them in olive oil, sprinkle some more good ol’ S and P and put them in the oven to roast for about an hour. You know they’re done when you can stick a fork in them easily. Once roasted, they turn very sweet. Probably a tad too sweet for my taste but while eating them, I knew the would go well on a salad or a nice tart slab of goat cheese.

As I finish this brief post, I realize that I make this experience way more exotic than it is to some who may think beets are as commonplace as potatoes. I would beg to differ. I’ve never had a more intriguing time preparing a vegetable in my life.

Thank you David for inspiring my foray into roasting beets!