It is my pleasure to welcome this year’s new produce. Spring is always the best time of year for me because I am so ready for fresh greens and color. The last few Saturdays I have gotten up early and headed down to the Portland Farmers Market. It’s been helpful to talk with some of the farmers to see what the timing of the different crops will be. Right now there are so many raabs (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts) and you’ll find them on your plate at the restaurant, adding both beauty and flavor. I have been buying baby carrots, fava beans, radishes, turnips, kales, potatoes and leaks. There is such abundance! The first delights of spring are the foraged products – the mushrooms of course, but also the nettles, wild onions and fiddlehead ferns.
There are farmers that deliver to me, but it’s tricky. We buy a lot of produce and this aspect of our meals has improved dramatically over the last couple of years. Nonetheless, my local farmers typically are offering the same products at the same time. It’s only natural. But it makes it hard to spread my business around as I need to order enough to make delivery worthwhile for them. One of my favorite solutions to this is the farmers’ co-op, Our Table. This a well-organized collective of small farmers that use Our Table’s land, organizational resources and delivery services, which affords me so many choices without the muss and fuss of combing the countryside.
Regardless, meeting directly with the farmers is one of the favorite parts of my job. And that’s where the Farmers’ markets come in so handy. I buy strawberries, heirloom tomatoes and other goodies from Denison Farms out of Corvallis, artichokes from DeNoble Farms in Tillamook, a assorted fruits and vegetables from a number of other stands at the market.
I have wanted to tell the story of how, why and from whom I choose to my produce, fish and meat for some time now so I wrote it all down. It was eight pages… so I need to break it down into a few articles. Until then, just know that I choose the ingredients to use in my restaurant just as I would, and do, for my own family. It’s just that my job as chef gives me the opportunity to spend much more time making these selections than I was ever able to do as a busy mother of three (six counting David’s boys) children.