Saturday, January 30, 2010

Badda Bianca

The Badda Bean has been grown in Sicily for more than two decades. The word "Badda" refers to the ball shape of the bean. The bean seeds were brought back from Italy by Lee and Wayne when they traveled there to attend the Tierra Madre Slow Food event.

Badda Beans are traditionally used for pasta e fagioli, or pasta and beans. Toss some of these gold an white litle balls in with your favorite winter pasta dish or try something entirely new with them. Soups, bean salads, baked, the possibilities are endless.

The Badda grows with long vines and needs support. If you have ever walked the Tierra fields in the summer time you can find sunflowers supporting the varieties of beans that need vertical support.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


A young puntarelle busily maturing in the Tierra field

PUNTARELLE is a variety of chicory, with serrated leaves, like those on dandelions, attached to the base of the plant and surrounding long, hollow, blunt-tipped whitish-green shoots that grow from the inside of the plant during the course of the winter. Also known as Catalogna de Galatina, puntarelle is a good representation of the flavors we usually expect of the chicory family. Its flavor profile hints at pepperiness like arugula in the leaves, a touch of fennel in the stalks and an underlying flavor that is a cross between chicory and endive. The shoots have the crisp, satisfying crunch of celery. Tasty raw or cooked, cooking mellows puntarelle's unusual flavor, so the shoots and leaves are most often served raw in salad, particularly a salad with a rich, powerful anchovy dressing that makes the faint bitterness seem almost sweet. It's the traditional treatment in Italy. Some chefs recommend slicing the hollow spears of the puntarelle VERY thinly lengthwise, and soaking them in a large quantity of cold water for two to three hours. This causes the thin strips to curl up in an extraordinary manner and they become juicier and less bitter. Other chefs exploit the sharp flavor by using rich ingredients like sardines and trout to help balance puntarelle's assertiveness. Feta cheese and black olives also complement this unusual vegetable.

**Credit to where this text was copied and pasted word for word

A puntarelle with a funny center being demonstrated for the camera by Lee-it grew more linear than they usually do, more often the hearts are full of a circle of stalks-tastes no different, of course

Myself and a Ferry Plaza market customer posed with this prized, Tierra-grown puntarelle last winter. Quite popular with city folk and chefs, the majority sell out in the wee hours of market

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My return, local honey, spinach

I returned to the Tierra team this last can find me in the farm stand in Evie's place for the time being. Of all people, I think she has earned herself a little break from her daily grind and her body has requested a winter respite. It is hard to step away because in many situations like this we are bound by community and I am sure Evie misses each of her special customers and friends as they come and go with their weekly goodies.

Weekly....we are on to winter scheduling now, open only Fri 11-5:30 and Sat 10-4. Why not every day this time of year? Many reasons, primarily there is just not the extreme demand for winter roots and greens as there is for sweet and juicy strawberries of spring and summer. Plus, things grow a bit slower with less heat and sun in the world this time of year. That said, you must come for some of this spinach! The leaves are large, sweet and savoy (crinkly leaves). The entire plant is harvested so you get a rosette of a spinach plant, by far a good enough reason to drop in at least once a week for fresh greens. I sure love the stuff.

Additionally, there are plenty more winter treats to be found in the farm stand amidst the depths of winter. The list goes on an on and I won't re-list them all right now as Evie maps it out in her weekly email already. Generally, come for roots, greens, beans, dried chiles, jams, hot sauces, and honey!

Yes this is honey from the field, if you have ever walked the length of the farm, approximately half way to the back you find hives staged near the fruit trees and man-made water way, giving bees all they need to survive. While the hives do not belong to Tierra, the makings of the honey certainly come from the farm satisfying those seeking local honey sources for various nutritional reasons. The honey has been minimally processed, has some beautiful crystallization, and is full of sweet flavor that originated right here on the farm. Better than strawberries? Just different. We will have it until it sells out. I got one for myself so now you all can come and snatch up the rest.

Please visit Tierra in the winter and come and see me so I can practice my number punching skills on the cash register...the farm works hard to keep you fed all the year round. Selection might not compare with what is found in the grocery isles this time of year (or, depending on your perspective, you may find WAY more diversity at Tierra), but if you took a moment to compare the quality of product I guarantee you'd be sold to shop at your local farm stand every time.