Ferry Plaza Raid

I made a spectacular raid on the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market this morning with Chris. Last Tuesday Lou Iacopi had the good taste to thank me again for the blackberry jelly I’d given him a couple of months ago. He did so very elaborately as a joke since I was carrying at that time a flat of berries. So I took him a jar today of the jelly I’d made from that flat: tayberry.

Then I introduced myself to John Lagier at the Lagier booth. I had been buying stuff, mostly berries and their excellent almond butter from him and his nephew for years without knowing who they were. Today, I was trying to pin him down on exactly when he’d have his sour cherries. I want to get a lot of them and pit and freeze them to use in making crisps since one of the best crisps I ever made was with the one batch of sour cherries I got last year. Very few vendors in this area grow them (there was only one other vendor last year) and you have to be alert for them because, like all cherries, every damn cherry on the tree ripens almost simultaneously, so the “season” lasts for only two market appearances. He’s expecting to have them the 15th and the Tuesday following. But he did have his first “Sylvan” blackberries, of which I bought a flat and from which I have just finished making jelly.
Next I stopped at Ella Bella and schmoozed and picked up a flat of their first olallieberries.

Then to Yerena to give him back the containers and box for last Tuesday’s tayberries and to give him the dozen tayberry signs I’d printed up for him on stiff paper. He had put back for me a flat of under-ripe tayberries, which should make just spectacular jelly. Before I left, he gave me a taste of the very first of some mystery berries. Somebody gave him six canes last year but didn’t know what variety/hybrid they were. He planted them, and they are now bearing, but he doesn’t know what they are. He took them to UC Davis and they didn’t know either. All they could say was the obvious, that the berries clearly had both blackberries and raspberries in their family tree. I told him he ought to call them Yerenaberries, but he demurred. He did tell me that he thinks enough will be ripe next week to bring me a flat. Since they’re delicious, I’m just dying to make Yerenaberry jelly. Rich and famous gourmets will queue at my door, begging for a jar. I’ll tell ’em I donated them all to Glide Memorial Church to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless…on Wonder bread.

The sign I made for Yerena reads: “The tayberry is a hybrid developed by the Scottish Crop Research Institute in 1978 by crossing the Oregon ‘Aurora’ blackberry and an unnamed, “improved tetraploid raspberry hybrid” developed by the Scottish Horticultural Research Institute. It is named after the River Tay and in addition to its superb taste, has the desirable quality of making really excellent jelly. At least one amateur jelly maker has had repeated success using the recipe titled ‘Waterless Grape or Berry Jelly’ in Joy of Cooking which, especially if slightly under-ripe fruit is available, somehow miraculously jells without the addition of pectin. This results in an especially flavorful jelly because it contains nothing but berries and sugar.”

Next, around to Michael Recchiuti to compliment him on his spectacular new website. God, is it ever beautiful…and slick…and well written…and witty. Things are even spelled right and every accent is there and aimed the right direction. Impressive. Just like his chocolates and spectacular ice creams, especially the burnt caramel. Check it out: www.recchiuticonfections.com

And then back to the car so that my bearer (Chris) could drop off the three flats of berries and bag of Brandywines he was carrying for me (so I’d have both hands free to take notes:-)

And then a second round, stopping to say hello to Jeff, the succulent vendor from whom I’ve got almost all my Haworthias. During the visit with Jeff, Chris spots Sybil before I do. I’d apparently described her fairly well, as he’d never seen her. I give her a copy of the sign I made for Yerena’s tayberries, as she wants to put it on her excellent market update site. [Note: Alas, CUESA has decided that it no longer wanted to provide this excellent service. Pity.]
Then we all head for Fitzgerald’s for peaches (Sybil) and nectarines (me). In all my praise of Fitzgerald’s wit and charm, I have neglected his able assistant, Liz Crane’s. He may be more verbal, but she is certainly just as charming, and I don’t say this just because she took my side against Sybil and agreed that in breeding all those white peaches and nectarines for sweetness, somebody forgot to keep the flavor. So she and I agree that if you want your wonderfully flavorful yellow peaches and nectarines a little sweeter, you can just add a little sugar. Actually, at three cents per ounce, you could go ahead and add alot of sugar.  Nice to take care of that question for good.

Next stop, Frog Hollow for a little snack after all that socializing: frangipane/cherry galettes, just obscenely good. While still eating the galette, I spot a vendor with the first Queen Anne cherries, so I gradually edge closer and play After You, My Dear Alphonse with a lady also going for a bag. Turns out we’re both after the Queen Annes and had an excellent cherry rap as we worked the bin from both sides. I am continually getting into spontaneous discussions with folks at the market, and people are constantly asking me questions. Apparently I radiate some sort of brazen fruit confidence.
Then around to the other row of the market to see if I can find whoever it was besides Lagier that had those sour cherries last year. No luck, but in the progress, I get to know Lee James at Tierra. I’d bought her amazing Chipotle Chile Jam and given it as gifts, and I’d had her fresh chiles, but I’d not bought any of her dried chiles. So I got some jalapeño chipotles with the idea of using one of those recipes for chipotle chile oil that I found on the Internet while I was looking for sources from which to buy the stuff.

Then across the aisle to Hidden Star, where I bought some of Mijnheer Smit’s Bings while he dished the Frisians. To the obstinacy he has added a charge of stinginess. Chris just loved this, as the Frisians have been the butt of German jokes at least since I was there in the sixties. Actually, knowing how those Europeans squabble with each other, this has probably been going on for at least 500 years.

End of the line, the Hamadas, for some of their Brooks cherries. And then, back here to make jelly while taking breaks to watch the French Open. At this point, the second batch, with the Ella Bella olallieberries, is about ready to jar, and I’m so tired I can barely sit here to type. Clearly those spectacular tayberries from Yerena are going to have to just rest in the refrigerator overnight.

A comment on my jellies: Friends have asked why I don’t strain them through cheesecloth to get out those few immature seeds that get through my sieve. I like to leave a few seeds so folks will know I didn’t use a mix.

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