The holiday season at Bi-Rite is such an exciting time for everyone involved, and there’s plenty of delicious local California produce to enjoy over the holidays coming at the end of the month. Our produce team loves to work with our guests to create the perfect holiday feast.
When the weather gets cooler, the cooking greens get sweeter, and the body seems to crave them even more. Tomatero, Mariquita, Happy Boy and the Bi Rite Farm all grow a wide variety of greens right now. One of my favorites is Red Russian Kale; once in the shadows of Green Curly and Lacinato Kales, it seems to have the most tender and flavorful leaves of all the kales this season. We also have big bright bunches of Rainbow Chard that are so sweet.
Throughout the winter, Matt and I as produce buyers bring in different specialty greens for our guests, hoping to offer them the chance to experiment with new recipes. Nettles, which grow like weeds on a lot of farms in this area, are so versatile and yummy. At first they can be a bit intimidating to work with because of their stingers, but with a pair of gloves, the prep process is quick; once they’re cooked the stinging qualities disappear. Nettles are great sautéed on their own, but really pop when added to a pizza or a soup.
Mariquita’s Broccoli Di Cicco is coming on strong and the florets have been perfectly tender and sweet. Farmer Andy’s also growing Purple Sprouting Broccoli that’s similar to Di Cicco in appearance but bright purple and a bit like cauliflower. We just started stocking up on Rugosa Italian Heirloom Squash so that we’ll have plenty for the holidays.
David Little’s “dry farmed” potatoes have been so yummy this winter–grab a handful of his Mountain Rose Potatoes to make your gratin extra beautiful and flavorful.
Fruits for Thought
Citrus season is gaining momentum and the fruit finally has the flavor we’ve been waiting for! The Clementines from Olsen Orchard in Lindsay, CA are out of this world. These lil’ suckers are easy to peel, have no seeds, and kids love them! We also have local seedless Satsuma Mandarins from Side Hill Citrus in the foothills of the Sierras, which offer the perfect sweet/tart flavor. One of the more unique citrus varieties of the season, the Bergamot Sour Orange, just arrived; they’re best known for the oil that comes from the skin, used in Earl Grey tea (Bergamots are also wonderful in marmalade). Moro Blood Oranges, Navel and Cara Cara Pink Navels are just getting going and will be around for the next couple months.
Hidden Star Orchard in Linden, CA is still supplying us with their locally grown Pink Lady and Fuji Apples. A local apple in December is a very special treat! We also have the late season Pacific Rose and Jazz Apple from the Northwest–extra crunchy and sweet!
The pear scene will also be pretty strong through the New Year. Sweet little Seckel Pears are on point, and one of our favorite local orchards Frog Hollow is still bringing us Warren and Bosc along with Shinko Asian Pears. Now’s the time to enjoy the last local pears and apples of the season.