Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Personality Plus-The Richmond Farmers' Market

Each farmers' market has its own personality. In the Bay Area, San Francisco Ferry Plaza market draws a chic San Francisco crowd on Saturday mornings, restaurateurs of all kinds, foodies searching for top-quality organic goodies, and lots of tourists. It's a destination, recommended in all the guidebooks. The Berkeley markets attract the organic, sustainable crowd, and are quite political. They are also full of joyful foodies and restaurateurs, many of whom attend three or four different markets per week. The Richmond market, not far from Berkeley, is more ethnically diverse, catering to a less wealthy crowd consisting of Hispanics, Pakistanis, Asians and others who prefer affordable over organic produce. This market, adjacent to Richmond's City Hall, is a fascinating world unto itself; I marveled at the photo-ops that came my way one Friday morning.  Many of the farmers, who come from  the Central Valley, three hours away, provide a colorful pastiche of fruits and vegetables often unique to this area. The bargain prices are definitely unique!
Colorful fish mosaic on Richmond's City Hall

Red bells 3 for a dollar

Green bell peppers, same price

A melange of Asian greens

A mother and son at the flea market next door

Huge watermelons for $2.00 

Purple hull peas 

Cranberry beans, only $1.50 per pound
I filled a big bag with cranberry beans (which I had just seen priced around $4.50 per pound in nearby markets), and rushed home to shell them and make a  delicious succotash. Succotash, a great early fall dish, is actually the anglicized version of "msickquatash," meaning "an ear of corn" in the extinct Algonquin language of the Narragansetts. Recently my dish has changed from the childhood memory of canned or frozen corn and limas into a seductive combination of fresh cranberry beans, corn, bacon, red peppers and anything else I might have picked up at the market. Dressed with a garlicky vinaigrette and served still slightly warm, it is the perfect market day lunch or dinner,

Beautiful fresh, shelled cranberry beans—the tender early stage of dried beans

Here is the modest link to the to the Friday Richmond Market  Richmond Farmers' Market


     I first discovered Deborah Madison when she founded and cooked at Green's Restaurant in San Francisco's Marina district. I went often in the early days to sample her vegetarian pastas and drink in the exquisite view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the dining room. When The Greens Cookbook came out, it was a hit at my cookbook shop, and we all prepared the fabulous Zuni stew, spring vegetable ragout, Brazilian chocolate cake and other favorites from the restaurant. Even though she moved to Santa Fe, her books kept coming to us. Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is my bible. I use it often as a reliable reference and as inspiration for new recipes. As I was writing about Bay Area markets, I spotted Local Flavors, Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets on my bookshelf and scanned it once again. As usual Ms Madison does a thorough job of traveling to markets all over the country, commenting, interviewing farmers, gathering recipes and providing stunning photos.  She is my idol.


  1. Wonderful post. I love the picture of the cranberry beans. They look like jewels. And the apple and pumpkin with the putto. Almost makes up for no pic of Allie. Yay for the Giants big win. Go Yankees tonight!

  2. Once again your photos and text are beautiful and informative! I love how you pair up a book with your post. Very enjoyable reading....thanks!