Stonefruit season is upon us and this week we are offering first-of-the-season Cherries and Apricots from two local farms. We are now stocking Brooks Cherries from Gotelli Family Farms and Apache Apricots from Frog Hollow Farm. The Gotelli's have been growing cherries in the San Joaquin Valley since the 1900's and currently farm several hundred acres in orchards surrounding the towns of Lodi, Stockton, Linden and as far south as Bakersfield. Cherry trees need a cold winter to introduce dormancy, no frost during their spring bloom period and warm weather to ripen well. Any untimely rain in May when the fruit has ripened will cause the cherries to crack and ruin the crop. Brooks Cherries are an early season variety that are firm, crunchy, and light colored. 10# case $39.75, or by the pound $4.50. Organic Apache Apricots from Brentwood's famed Frog Hollow Farm are also beginning this week. Farmer Al Courchesne and his family have been growing organic fruit on their 133 acre farm in the Sacramento Delta town of Brentwood for the last 30 years. The Apache is a small sized apricot with a firm texture and a sweet, delicate flavor. These orange colored orbs are pristine organic apricots and the epitome of Farm-to-Fork seasonal fruit. Apaches are available mid-May to early June. 10# case- only. $30.75.
Pedroza Dairy and Cheese
Our ongoing effort to source our products from local producers lead us to Tim Pedroza of Pedroza Dairy and Cheese. Tim raises a combined herd of 50 Holstein and Jersey cows on his ranch in Orland, CA. His cows have year-round access to the outdoors and graze on natural grasses as long as the pastures are in bloom. Tim crafts his raw milk cheese in small batches, ages them for at least 60 days and sells them at our local farmers markets. This week we begin stocking two of Tim's Gouda style cheeses-Northern Gold and Tartufello. Northern Gold has a golden, buttery look and a semi-firm texture. It's mild, buttery and creamy, with a bit of a nutty flavor. Shred and melt into pastas, pizzas, grilled sandwiches; or just slice and pair with fresh fruit and your favorite bread. Pairs nicely with a full-bodied microbrew. 8# wheel, $7.75 per pound Tartufello-Black truffle paste is added to his cheese as the curd is forming. The flavor permeates the young cheese and after about 60 days of aging, the cheese is semi firm and rich with flecks of truffles speckled throughout. The herbaceous flavor of the cheese is nicely balanced with the heady, pungent notes of truffle. Great for burgers and pastas. 8# wheel, $8.25 per pound
Sausalito Springs Organic Watercress
This week we are offering a rather unique edible plant-Sausalito Springs Organic Watercress. Sausalito Springs is a small family farm located in Sonoma County and watercress is their only crop. Watercress in an aquatic, succulent leafy plant that roots and grows wild in clear, shallow streams. Sausalito Springs grows their watercress in fresh well water and harvests only the tops of the plant which are then triple washed, hydro cooled and hand packed loose leaf, rather than bunched, in clear, plastic bags. Watercress is a prominent member of the mustard family and contains a volatile mustard oil with compounds similar to those in radishes, which gives the plant its unique peppery flavor. Watercress also possesses an alphabet of vitamins-A, B, C, D and E-as well as minerals-iron, zinc, copper, sulfur, manganese and germamium (a blood cleanser). All of this adds up to the fact that watercress is one of the healthiest plants for us humans found in the natural world. Sausalito Springs watercress is a live product and certified organic. Moisture is added after packaging to promote continued growth. When properly handled, shelf life is 10-14 days. It is best stored in original bag, kept flat and turned daily. Optimum temperature is 38 degrees. When used in restaurant containers, keep covered with wet towel. Sausalito Springs watercress is excellent in salads and sandwiches, pairs well with fish and would make a flavorful and delicate watercress ʻpesto.ʼ Unlike traditional watercress, Sausalito Springs watercress is 100% usable with tender, juicy stems and small, fresh, peppery leaves. 2# re-sealable bag $34.75.
Produce Express stocks a full line of DiNapoli brand tomato products. Based in Modesto, CA. the DiNapoli family has over 60 years of tomato processing experience. All of the tomatoes used by DiNapoli are grown in California and the primary variety is the San Marzano Style Plum Tomato. DiNapoli tomato products are characterized by deep red color, soft fragile texture and a sweet natural taste. All canned tomato products are packed 6/#10 cans per case. Bianco DiNapoli-Organically grown tomatoes. $32.75. San Marzano Style Plum Tomatoes-Packed whole and peeled $19.75. Diced Tomatoes in Juice-Peeled tomatoes diced to a cube. $18.75. Ground Tomatoes in Puree-50% chunky ground peeled tomatoes, 50% fresh pack tomato puree. $19.75. Tomato Sauce-Whole peeled tomatoes, seasoned, cooked and strained to create a rich and flavorful sauce. $18.75. Tomato Paste-Whole peeled plum tomatoes cooked and reduced to a rich, red concentrate. $28.75. Tomato Puree (Extra Heavy)-Whole peeled tomatoes, briefly cooked and strained to a thick liquid. $20.75. Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes-Roasted, diced, full of flavor. $28.75. Marinara Sauce-$23.75.
English Peas, Fava Beans, and Ramps
The arrival of the freshly picked English Peas and Fava Beans are a telltale sign of spring. In early March, Peas and Favas start their season in Mexico, and as the season progresses, they cross the boarder into Southern California and then move north to Watsonville on the Central Coast. English Peas and Fava Beans from Watsonville began last week. The tender, sweet, plump legumes must be shucked from their inedible pods and can be used in many culinary applications such as spring vegetable ragouts, purees, soups, and salads, or simply eaten raw right ouy of their pods. We are offering English Peas by the case and pound. Fava Beans take longer to grow and mature, but the first of the season favas yield small, sweet, tender beans. Favas are now available by both case and pound. Another seasonal favorite-Ramps, a wild onion resembling a scallion with broad leaves, are now available. The flavor and odor of ramps are usually compared to a combination of onions and garlic, with a particularly strong garlic fragrance. Ramps have a short season, as the season will wind down in 4-6 weeks. Ramps add a uniquely pungent flavor to soups, risottos and especially potato dishes. Use them raw or cooked in any recipe calling for scallions or leeks. $15.75 per pound.
Starwberries and Fromage Blanc
Farmers Market Albion Strawberries from Watsonville's V&M Farms are known for its long, conical, and symmetrical shape, pleasant aroma, vibrant color and juicy texture. They are ripe and meant to be used within 3 days. $19.75 case only. Please specify FARMERS MARKET STRAWBERRIES when ordering. Fromage Blanc is a soft, creamy spreadable cow's milk cheese originating in northern France. This fresh cheese has a distinct tangy flavor with a mild lemon finish. It can be easily substituted for cream cheese or ricotta in both sweet and savory dishes. In France, it most often appears on menus simply served with honey. However, the cheese is very versatile and can be used in dozens of culinary applications-spread on crackers, bagels, toast and bruschetta, use in frittatas and other egg dishes, add to pastas and pizzas, & serve with smoked salmon. Fromage Blanc pairs well with spring fruits and vegetables like Strawberries, Peas, Favas, and Ramps. Orland Farmstead Fromage Blanc is produced locally and is available in 32 oz. tubs $8.75.
Chicories and Greens
A couple of our local farms are harvesting some unique vegetables this week and we are pleased to offer these "Farm to Fork" items. J. Marchini Farms in the Central Valley is harvesting two varieties of Radicchio-Castelfranco and Treviso. Castelfranco is characterized as being the least bitter of all the chicories which include Belgian, Red, & Curley Endive, Frisee, Dandelion Greens, Escarole and other varieties of radicchio such as Treviso. 12ct case $25.75. Treviso has the strongest flavor of all the radicchio varieties, wine red with narrow, white ribbed closed and elongated leaves that are excellent grilled and dressed with a tangy vinaigrette or combined with other chicories to make a striking seasonal salad or braise. 10-12ct case. $22.75.Also from J. Marchini Farms-Red Russian Kale is mildly sweet with an earthy cabbage flavor. Their medium size jagged leaves are thick, chewy, rich in color, with red and purple splotches and red ribs. Use like other greens in sautés, braises, and soups. 12 bunch $14.75. Riverdog Farm is harvesting both red and green Dandelion Greens this week. Dandelion Greens are edible in their raw and most gutsy state and packs quite a punch for a powerful and assertive salad. You can take them down a notch by cooking them. Some like them best sautéed with olive oil and a bit of garlic and bacon...what isn't better with bacon? 12 bunch $17.75.
Green Almonds are unripe almonds, picked before the shell has a chance to harden. Like their cousin, the peach, green almonds have a fuzzy exterior with a jell-like interior with a delicate, grassy, fruity flavor. The "nut" has a gelatinous texture, similar to a firm grape. They are a rare delicacy and are very popular in Mediterranean cuisines. Green almonds can be sliced whole to be used as a garnish for soups and salads. European chefs make a green almond paste for pastries and they pair very well with fish and seafood. Locally grown by J. Marchini Farms. 10# case $48.75.
During Asparagus season, we will offer Delta Asparagus Ravioli. These ravioli are made with whole milk ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano and the locally grown, prized asparagus our region is known for. Dress the ravioli with a fresh spring vegetable ragout of English Peas, Fava Beans, Carrots, Leeks and fresh herbs finished with butter and Parmesan cheese, or pair with spring lamb. 5# box $35.75 Frozen. See our website for other ravioli flavors and more information on Sacramento's Getsala Pasta Co.