New Times / Cuisine
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 25, Issue 15
Support your farmers marketsShop green, eat well, and live a healthy life
BY KATHY MARCKS HARDESTY
Whether you’re a local or a tourist, there’s something for everyone at each of our markets. You’ll find most local artisans sell foods that travel well, even if you’re far away from home. Recently, I was lured away from my neighborhood market by North County Farmers Market Manager Sandra Dimond, who invited me to the Templeton Farmers Market. It takes place in Templeton Park every Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. This market provided my introduction to the outstanding products from Happy Acres Family Farm in Templeton, where you’ll find exceptional goat cheeses and skin care products.
That day, the SLO chapter of Slow Food, a global grassroots movement to replace fast food with healthy foods from local producers, was in attendance, too. Happy Farms’ gregarious owner Stephanie Simonin spoke to them quite candidly: “There are only two or three goat farms in California. It’s very expensive to farm, and we’re trying to keep our heads above water.” Her products are outstanding, and both the skin lotions and cheeses are made by Simonin’s mother, Laurie Scattini, who has an expert consultant in chef Antonio Varia.
On About.com, I discovered “salumi” or “salame” are the Italian words for cold cuts we Americans call salami. Varia offers four housemade salamis: “cacciatorni,” a hunter’s style salami with juniper berry; “salame al Barolo,” the most robust style; “Sopressa del Cusio,” pressed into a flattened shape and boasting extra garlic and spices; and “Finocchiona,” which Varia describes as Italy’s most loved pork product, and is aromatic from the addition of fennel seeds.
“To make good salumi, you need a good pig,” Varia explained. “That’s why I always buy Niman Ranch pigs. They’re free range and a great product.”
Don’t skip past Varia’s olivata, a recipe of chopped California black olives with mustard seeds, organic herbs, Italian olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Like the French tapenade, Varia’s olivata is a fabulous condiment.
I found an excellent new producer I wish came to my neighborhood market: McCall Farm. Paul McCall offers his delightful guacamole fresh from the family farm in Cambria. They grow avocados, citrus, and apples, farmed without pesticides or herbicides. McCall told me: “Every Saturday, just before coming to market, I make the guacamole.” Held in ice chests to keep it fresh, that guacamole was the best pre-made version I’ve tasted in a long time. That’s because we use almost the same recipe; his includes Haas avocados, lemon, cilantro, cumin, and jalapeno. The only difference is that I use lime and coriander (dried and ground cilantro). He also makes an extra spicy version, packed with a potent jolt of jalapeno.
Other farm products I liked came from John Lahargou, who offers dry-farmed watermelons at $6 each. Intensely flavored and surprisingly juicy, they’re never irrigated and only get watered when it rains. There are also Paul Stoltey’s honeys, which he’s been harvesting locally for 53 years. Both of these farmers come to the Arroyo Grande Market on Wednesdays.
For more information about the North County Farmers Markets, go to northcountyfarmersmarkets.com. For everyday shopping, your neighborhood farmers market has everything you need. But you should also treat yourself to the pleasure of visiting other SLO County markets for one-of-a-kind foods from artisans you won’t find anywhere else.
Contact Kathy Marcks Hardesty at firstname.lastname@example.org.