Last Fall, Macy’s Culinary Council Chef Rick Bayless dished out a few handy tips for navigating the farmers’ market like a pro; however, with the arrival of Spring comes a newly-picked variety of homegrown goodies to choose from. Sounds like the perfect excuse for a quick refresher, don’t you think? So, we hit the San Francisco circuit with Chef Nancy Silverton, another one of our trusted culinary connoisseurs, for a glimpse at this season’s tastiest pickings…
mBLOG: What makes you visit the farmers’ markets rather than simply sifting through the produce aisle at your neighborhood grocery store?
NS: For me, shopping at the farmers’ market — especially here in San Francisco — is what cooking is all about. I’m inspired by seasonal, fresh produce and there’s nothing like walking around the booths, meeting the farmers’ and sampling their selections. My head is just spinning round and round. It’s so exciting to be here!
mBLOG: Is there an ideal time of year to shop or is it more of an ongoing happening?
NS: In California, particularly Los Angeles, there are several farmers’ markets of varying sizes going on every single day and that’s how it has been for a long time — and because of that, California was really at the forefront of the farm to table movement. We are so lucky that year-round the markets are so bountiful.
mBLOG: How does the harvest change from season to season?
NS: Everything is grown here and it’s all done seasonally, but the weather outside doesn’t change as radically. For instance, when you see it snowing on the East Coast, you know it’s Winter, right? I know by what produce is at the market. When I see peas and asparagus, I know it’s Spring. Tomatoes? It must be the middle of Summer. And when I see squash, I know it’s Winter.
mBLOG: Tell us about the role that the “farm to table” movement has played in your personal diet and the dishes you prepare professionally.
NS: Going to the farmers’ market for my personal use and how that relates to my cooking is sort of two-fold. We shop there and write our menus based on what’s available. We’ve been a farm to table state for a long time. We also think about portion — it’s a huge part of what contributes to unhealthy eating — as well as the basics and foods that are not overly processed. My personal tastes really include a lot of salads as main dishes and very simply prepared proteins on the side.
mBLOG: Are there any favorite types of foods that you love to stock up on?
NS: I don’t have a favorite because it’s always the last booth I bought something at. Right now, we’re at Marin Farms, and I actually have been here three times — every time I walk away, I think I need something else from them — but I just bought half a dozen bunches of beautiful radishes. So at the moment, that’s my favorite thing at the farmers’ market.
Before you run over to your local market, make sure your shopping list is in order. A quick glance at the tasty recipes from our Macy’s Culinary Council will help you get started, only on macys.com/culinarycouncil