Early February I was strolling through the Sonoma Farmers Market in the beautiful wine country of California and taking in the bountiful winter harvest of our region where it’s still possible to eat food freshly harvested from our local farms. I was feeling a sense of gratitude for the warm sunny day as I reflected on how my friends and family were experiencing one of the coldest winters on record on the East Coast.
It was lunchtime, so I stopped by one of my favorite food vendors: The Green Grocer (www.windsorgreengrocer.com). “Local, Sustainable, Delicious!” is their motto. The menu changes weekly based on what the farmers’ market vendors are selling that very day. Can you imagine having a food booth and not knowing what produce and food items you’ll be preparing until that very morning? Not a difficult feat for Joe Rueter the chef, owner and gastronomist of The Green Grocer and his staff. Joe is a professionally trained CIA chef – not your government CIA, but the internationally known Culinary Institute of America CIA (www.ciachef.edu).
My lunch included freshly forged shiitake mushroom tacos with winter greens and sprouts. I complemented this with a winter green salad featuring pickled red peppers, cooked sliced potatoes and sautéed kale. The salad was topped with sprouts and locally made feta cheese. Yum! As I savored each bite, I was pleased to see young mothers bringing their children to have lunch at the farmers market to teach them where their food comes from. I was especially pleased to hear sounds of children laughing and marveling at the bright colors of fruits and vegetables that greeted them at eye-level. Truly endearing were the sounds of pre-school children delighting in the textures and tastes of their Green Grocer lunch. It was obvious to those standing by that this was a special lunch outing for the children who valued what they were eating. I spoke to the giggling girls and they shared how excited they were to be there because they had their own school garden and they knew that the food from the farmers market was garden fresh and the best!
I invite you this spring to take your inner child with you to a farmers market and look at the produce from a child’s eyes and take in the beauty and appreciation for what both farmers and food venders bring to your table: Local, Sustainable and, oh, so Delicious!
To your health,
Sonoma Lemon Dijon Vinegrette
by Chef Lynne Bennett
1/2 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1-2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice to taste
1-2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of sea salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
*Use fresh organic and local ingredients when available.
Directions (Best prepared 1 hour ahead of time and chilled):
Prepare shallots and garlic. In a mixing bow whisk together lemon, vinegar, shallot, garlic and mustard. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate. Toss on salad and serve. Enjoy!
Lynne Marie Bennett is a certified Natural Chef, Nutrition Consultant & Educator, and certified Culinary Travel Professional through World Food Travel Association. Her company is California Culinary & Wellness Adventures.