New Food Book

While I was at the California Artisan Cheese Festival in Petaluma I purchased a great book that has been on my list for a while:  “The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese”, by Jeffrey P. Roberts.  This book is the bible for anyone who loves American artisan cheeses.  It organizes the information by region, then the state, and gives an in depth description about the creameries, cheesemakers, and farms.

It was published in 2007 and could be considered ancient with the amount of new creameries sprouting up and producing great new cheeses, but it is well worth the purchase and I’ll be waiting patiently for the next revision.

 

Springtime! Coming Soon

We are starting to see the first signs of spring.  The weather is looking like it will be cooperating with us this week with warm days and soon we should start to see the sunshine come through in the produce.  Every spring I wait patiently in the check out lines of Whole Foods as the new batch of clerks try to find the proper codes for the spring garlic, spring onions, and fava beans as I think of new ways to incorporate these items into my menus.

The unusually rainy season will be pushing back the start of the springtime produce for a few weeks, but it should be well worth it.  I for one, being the seasonal produce driven chef that I am, always gets excited about the start of spring.  I’m starting to see spring garlic, spring onions, English peas, fava beans, and asparagus show up in the markets.  I think it will be an abundant year for mushrooms and we should start to see a lot of Morels popping up out of the ground soon from all of the rains we had this year.

Artisan Cheese Festival Recap

The cheese festival wrapped up on Sunday with a marketplace tasting  of mostly local northern California artisan cheeses and foods with a small selection of artisans from Washington, Oregon, and Utah.  Here are the highlights:

Cheeses:

Achadinha Cheese Co.- The Capricious is an aged goat cheese and one of my favorites that I always have around.

Beehive Cheese Co.- From Utah and known for there Barely Buzzed cheese that is rubbed with espresso and lavender.

Cowgirl Creamery- Always making great cheeses with the seasonal St. Pat available now and the consistently great stinky and gooey Red Hawk.

Cypress Grove- Famous for there Humboldt Fog.  I also tasted the Truffle Tremor that would be great stirred into a mushroom risotto.

Shamrock Artisan Cheese- A very nice plain goat cheese from Willits in Mendocino County.

Willapa Hills Farmstead Cheese- From Washington with a nice selection of blue cheeses.  I liked Pluvius The Rain Maker, an aged cow milk cheese.

Other Consumables

Cassata-Sonoma Olive Oil- California first cold pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Creminelli Fine Meats- Casalingo and Sopressata Salami.

Dutton-Goldfield- A great Pinot Noir producer.

Poco Dolce Chocolates- Bittersweet chocolates with sea salt.

Salute Santé Grapeseed Oil- Great for sautéing and adding a light flavor to foods.

Black Trumpet Mushrooms

It’s a little early in the season, but I spotted some black trumpet mushrooms at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market the other day.  Hopefully we’ll start seeing some Morel Mushrooms pop up in the near future.  Black trumpets have a great earthy- woody taste with a firm texture.  They hold up well and are best just lightly sautéed in butter with a little garlic.  They are also nice in a risotto or pasta.  Make sure to clean them well by tearing in half and removing any sticks, dirt or critters that tend to hide in the stem.

Spring Produce Coming Soon

The never-ending winter and late frost has delayed the start of spring, at least for produce that is.  That means we won’t see a lot of our favorite local spring produce for another few weeks.  Start looking now for fresh English peas and spring garlic.  Hopefully soon we’ll start seeing fava beans, spring onions, ramps, morel mushrooms, artichokes, squash blossoms, and maybe even some strawberries.

The changing of the seasons is always an exciting time for chefs and spring is my favorite time.  We start to say goodbye to roasted root vegetables and slowly braised meats and we get to start utilizing fresh fruits and vegetables into the menus.