June 14, 2009

Summer Seasons Yield Tastey Flavors

Sacramento natives can now be reunited with the freshest fruits and vegetables the city has to offer.

The Sacramento Farmers’ Markets are open daily in various locations from May through October, with some open all year long. The scattered locations offer several opportunities to purchase seasonal fruit, vegetables and herbs, as well as artisan breads and fresh cut flowers, straight from the growers.

Each market explodes with vibrant summer colors as this season’s fruits and vegetables come to life with peak ripened flavor. Lloyd Johnson of Lloyd’s Produce offers fresh herbs, peppers, tomatoes and popcorn. Blooming flowers from the Yolo Bulb Farm surround grower Mike Madison’s booth of fig and apricot jams, organic olive oils and ripe melons. Meanwhile, the aroma of fresh strawberries from the local growers at Sebastopol Berry Farm fills the air.

Here’s an easy recipe to use with Sebastopol Berry Farm’s fresh strawberries from the Farmers’ Market to make a tastey summer salad:

Grilled Sirloin Steak and Summer Strawberry Arugula Salad

1 cup sliced Sebastopol Berry Farm’s strawberries

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon white sugar

Pepper to taste

Salt to taste

8oz Top Sirloin

Desired arugula leaves

½ cup candied walnuts or sliced almonds

Shaved parmesan cheese

Yields 2 servings

Heat the grill. Season both sides of steak with salt and pepper to taste and grill 5 to 6 minutes on each side, or to desired doneness. Let sit for 5 minutes, and then slice against the grain.

While you wait for your steak to cool, mix first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Lay the mix on a bed of arugula and top with candied walnuts or sliced almonds.

Lastly, lay sliced steak on top of salad and top with shaved parmesan cheese.

Sit and enjoy.

For more information on Sacramento Farmers’ Market locations, growers and market times visit http://www.california-grown.com.

June 8, 2009

Picking a ripe Citrullus Lanatus

There is NOTHING better than cutting into a watermelon and getting that initial aroma of sweet melony goodness. Or when you split it open and hear the cracking of the thick green peel to reveal the vibrant fuchsia colors inside. The scent travels as juice escapes from beneath - the more palpable the scent the better the flavor. Care for a piece?

So how do you pick the perfect melon? Some people try their luck with a pick-and-go method. They would literally find the watermelons, randomly pick one, and go. It’s like a drive by watermelon-napping. I’ve actually seen a person pick one up and shake one. Some people lack the confidence to pick and just grab the pre-cut, pre-packaged watermelon. Pitiful, to say the least.

What I am about to reveal has been a long-time family secret handed down from generation to generation. My mother knew it, my grandmother knew it, and my great grandmother new it. Now I know it and I would like to share it with anyone who wants a tasty watermelon.

When picking the right melon one should:

First check its shape. Symmetry is the key.

Pay attention to its weight. Watermelons are mostly water so a heavier melon means a juicier melon.

Press the skin of the watermelon in various places of its surface. A good melon will not have any soft spots. Get one that’s as hard as a rock.

Notice the color. A darker green color outside offers a sweeter melon.

Also look for unusual blood-like markings, mold and rot. Obviously avoid thes melons. Check out The Rhetoric of Rhubarb for an interesting piece on Vampire Watermelons.

To check for ripeness, look for the sweet spot. Search for a yellow spot on the melon. This is where it sat during its growth period. The yellowish color indicates ripeness.

Lastly, go Matthew McConaughey on it and smack it like it’s a bongo drum. Listen for an empty drum-like sound. Like a *Toom-Toom* sound. If it just makes a dense thud sound, drop it like it’s hot and pick another.

That’s it, simple enough. Now you know the family secret. With it, you should be able to pick a ridiculously delicious watermelon for all to enjoy, just on time for the summer.

June 1, 2009

A Marriage of Tangerine and Hops

Back and side go bare, go bare,
Both foot and hand go cold;
But, belly, God send thee good ale enough,
Whether it be new or old.
--Bishop Still (John)

A new beer has emerged from the tedium of American corporate beer drinking society.

Behold, Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat Ale.

A beer best served on tap, but also great from the bottle. It offers a crisp citrus taste with a nice cool feeling of refreshment. Orange in appearance and a mild tangerine aroma, this beer would go harmoniously well with seafood, barbeque or simply by itself.

Look out for Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat Ale to hit the shelves soon and sell out in local restaurants. If it follows suit like its distinct predecessors, it should be in line to win many awards.

Lost Coast Brewery Brewmasters Barbara Groom and Wendy Pound have been making exceptionally distinguishing beers for over 20 years from the cool climate of Eureka, Ca. The demand for their award winning ales has made them the 46th largest brewery in the country and is sold in 19 states.

From their Downtown Brown and Pale Ale, Gold Medal winners at the World Beer Championship, to their Alley Cat Amber and 8-Ball Stout, also award winners, not only are they distinct in flavor and complexity, they are eye catching in character and art.

Tangerine Wheat is one of many citrus ales that is gaining popularity in the microbrewing culture. Its debut effect mimics the introduction of the incredibly trendy Blue Moon with its unique flavor and refreshing quench. Enjoy one soon to see what all the fuss is about.