About 80 percent of fruits and vegetables we use at The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco come from the farmers’ market. I try to go to the Marin Civic Center Farmers’ Market a couple times a week because I like to pick out the produce myself. It gives me the opportunity to see what’s available—see if the peaches are actually ripe. I go in the morning, come home, clean up, and then head to work.
What produce is available at the market drives our menu and sets the tone for the whole week. I’ll see big bunches of beautiful grapes and know I need to get them. I might not know how to use them initially, but we always figure it out.
This week for example, there were many ripe varieties of apples and radishes that spanned the market. Everything looked so appetizing that I picked out several of each kind. From that trip, I created a brand new dish that could utilize the produce gathered—a slow-cooked suckling pig with grape juice. I simply chopped up the apples and radishes, tossed with olive oil, added the mixture right on top of the meat, and voila! A new menu item was created.
So the next time you head to your local farmers’ market, go in with an open mind. Scan and see what’s available. Oftentimes, the small farmers have the more interesting selections. There are so many options, so be adventurous with your cooking.