BY DEBRA J. MORRIS
As the Sunday Martinez Farmers’ Market draws to a close for the day, farmers pack up their leftover produce and take down their tents as they make their way home after a day of bringing customers the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. A single bunch of carrots and some lettuce are the only items left at the booth of Tu Universo Farms, while Great Valley Poultry puts away the few remaining cartons of fresh eggs left on the table.
The Martinez community has once again come out to support their farmers market and the local purveyors of fresh produce, hot foods, honey, cheese, and baked goods. What could be a better visual expression of this support than farmers taking home very little of what they brought !
Market Manager Michael Peterson said, “The Martinez community has always supported their farmers market and they come out to shop even when it rains. They’re here every Sunday throughout the year and our local farmers really appreciate their support.”
Why are these folks supporting the local farmers’ market ? It’s because they find the freshest fruits and vegetables, often in varieties not found elsewhere. They also find pure local honey, freshly-made breads, olive oil, and tamales, made by purveyors who really care about the quality of their product. They are here to support their community and the local economy, usually visiting surrounding shops and eateries while they’re here. And they also get to talk to the people who grow or produce what they’re buying.
This month, Martinez farmers market shoppers will be filling their market shopping bags with amazing winter citrus, hearty root vegetables, winter greens, and more. Hearty winter celery, carrots, onions, and potatoes can be found at Tu Universo of Watsonville. Feel Good Bakery from Alameda will be offering their fantastic walnut loaf and sourdough bread. Miss Bee Haven will have pure local honey from their Brentwood-area hives. At J&J Ramos Farms out of Hughson you’ll find all the oranges and tangerines you could want.
The market also has olive oil from Atlas Peak and Bistro Blends, both out of the Napa region, tasty snacks from O’Hana Brothers in Pleasanton and Hummus Heaven of San Leandro, creamy cheeses from Achadinha Cheese in Petaluma and fresh green smoothies from The Fruit Tree in Oakland.
The variety of products at the market is endless, the quality of each and every offering is superb, and the camaraderie of family, friends, and neighbors is heartwarming. Join the other faithful farmers market shoppers this weekend and see what you’ve been missing !
Candied Blood Orange Slices
2 blood oranges, sliced crosswise into 1⁄4-inch-thick pieces
5 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (preferably 70% cocoa), chopped
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
Maldon salt for garnish
In a saucepan, combine 1-1/2 cups sugar and water and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved completely, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the blood orange slices, and simmer until translucent, about 20 -30 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool completely, about 2 hours, in a cool spot.
Place waxed paper over a sheet pan. Using tongs, remove the slices, shaking off any excess syrup. Place on the rack in a single layer. Let the slices dry overnight. Reserve the syrup for another use. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the chocolate in a heat proof bowl placed over simmering water in a saucepan. Melt the chocolate, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat. Drag each side of the candied blood orange slice halfway into the chocolate and then place on the parchment in a single layer. Leave until the chocolate has set, about 1 hour. Garnish with Maldon salt.