Farmers come in from around the Bay Area, Sacramento Valley, and the San Joaquin Valley to sell fresh produce at the El Cerrito Farmer’s Market every week. The market opens at 9 AM and closes at 1 PM on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
As the summer winds down, the late season plums make their final appearances. The scarlet speckeld golden green fruit beckons to be touched, taken home and lovingly prepared in a salad. I see so many plums from the different farms, it feels impossible to choose. As I turned the corner of one fruit stand, I heard the farmer from Paredez Farms cry out over and over again, “super sweet, super sweet”. During the last visit he introduced me to some insanely great pluots. I went with his plums and pluots. The young woman unobtrusively stepped up the moment I thought about paying for the fruit and moving on. The fruit doesn’t taste super sweet. Sweet, but not super sweet. It tastes like plums the way the fruit should.
Table grapes cascaded down a table. The abudance indicates that not every grape in California faces the crush for wine. I dearly love grapes. Particularly these grapes. Super sweet, indeed. The cool fruit feels perfect as a dessert after a stressful day or a quick pick me in the afternoon. The best way to eat grapes is the same way I eat left over stuffing at Thanksgiving: standing in front of the fridgerator with the door still open, picking out one or two at time until gluttony requires that I make the effort to lift the bag out to the kitchen counter.
Pomegrantes hit peak availability in California around September and October. I like to eat the sweet tart fruit by popping them into my mouth, but I always feel a little odd when they crunch against my teeth. I had an amazing pastry at Patisserie Philippe in San Francisco where pomegranate seeds decorated the fan of kiwi fruit, mango, and berries. The crimson pomegranates look tough to prepare, but I discovered that they’re not. Simply hold them underwater while pulling them apart. The pith floats and the seeds sink. I laced a salad of plums, watercress, fennel, and mint with pomegranate seeds. The salad turned out so rich and complex that each bite felt like a different salad depending on the mouthful.
Now is the time to shop the farmer’s market in El Cerrito in order to enjoy the best of what the Fall has to offer. And may the best plum win.