Monday, April 12, 2010

Santa Rosa Saturday Market

I've been meaning to make it up to Santa Rosa for the Saturday Farmer's Market at the Veteren's Memorial parking lot for weeks, as my friend Brook sells Black Sheep Farms organic pork, lamb and beef every Saturday, making the dedicated early trek from the City to support her brother's small Potter Valley(Mendocino) operation.

Heavy looking clouds loomed as I parked in the spacious lot, conveniently located off the E Street exit on highway 12 (right across from the fairgrounds).  Going to the market starving is like going to the grocery store in the same state, as everything looks great and of course, the spring produce is just starting to pick up.  But what really peaked my interest was the wide array of prepared food stalls beckoning to me for a mid morning breakfast.  What to choose, what to choose?  I oogled the Indian food, supple garbanzo beans, rice and greens.  Barbequed oysters, Mexican food, Mediterranean fare, Yucatano food, and California cuisine were all very viable choices.  I couldn't help but notice the term "suckling pig" and "poached eggs" on Rosso's chalkboard as I rounded the corner to seek out Brook and have a visit. 

While much smaller than its Marin Civic Center counterpart, what sets this market apart is that most of the prepared food vendors are local.  You won't find Donna's Tamales (gotta love them though), Sukhi's Indian Chutneys or the Roli Roti Rotisserie.  Instead you'll find Mateo Granados' incredible booth boasting food from the Yucatan using that day's farmer's market meats and produce.  I was envious of my friend's Mediterranean style sausage from Mommy's Yammy's (pictured right), featuring Franco's sausage from Scopa Restaurant in Healdsburg.

Uncertain what to choose for breakfast (as I truly wanted it all) I treated myself to a coffee from Gaga's coffee, featuring fair trade organic beans, roasted just this week and brewed to order by friendly (and funny) "baristas".  They do it the right way, dripped fresh right into your cup.  Blue Bottle, watch out, you've got some serious competition.
With all of the options for food, that damn suckling pig kept calling out to me from the back corner of the market.  I've been wanting to make it to Rosso Pizzeria in Santa Rosa for some time, so this foray would have to be my introduction.  Their chalkboard was a little confusing, listing poached eggs, yukon potato hash, the aforementioned roast suckling pig, foccacia... 

Why pick and choose when you can get the whole shebang for $12.  Okay, yeah, its the farmer's market, why go if you aren't prepared to pay some cash for premium produce picked just that day, and pig roasted on the spot?

About 5 minutes later, my plate was ready so  I parked myself at a picnic table tucked off to the side, the perfect spot to watch the action, and have an insiders view of the back of the booth boasting a cuban style roasting box, replete with instructions on how to roast a pig in just 4 hours.  A little quiet over in this corner of the market, it wasn't hard for the sweet girls at Rosso's booth  to hear me gushing over and over again about the heavenly goodness of my cold spring morning breakfast.  The egg was perfectly poached and adorned with bright green arugula pesto.  A dollop of rhubarb compote accompanied the perfectly cooked pig, crispy skin a-plenty to crunch with the yukon gold, green garlic hash dotted with caramelized carrots.  As if this wasn't enough, a crunchy, olive oily square of foccacia was provided to soak everything up.  I'm glad my instincts were spot on that day, because
I'm still not over how good it was.  I chatted up Rosso's owner, Chef John Franchetti, and he was nice enough to pose for a photo, holding up a large spoon of hash, Cuban pig box cooker in the background.  I can hardly wait to make it to Rosso the restaurant, but in the meantime, I'll have this perfect breakfast etched in my memory.

Full, fat and happy, I picked up some Hawaiian-Portugese style sausage as well as some traditional Italian sausage from Black Sheep Farms.  I can't wait to make some pasta with the italian, or blend the portugese style with beans and rice for a traditional portugese stew.  The Spring Hill Dairy folks were there, so I bought some organic shallot and herb scented butter as well as some goat milk feta.  Leon Day, of Leon Day's condiments, tasted me on almost everything in his booth, habanero sauce included.  I managed to get away with a spicy peanut satay sauce that I can't wait to try on some marinated chicken.  At one of the last booths on the way out, I picked up some veggie starters for my home garden:  tomatillos, zebra stripe tomatoes, early girls, red onions, and borage;  just in time, as the raindrops had just begun to fall. 

http://www.rossopizzeria.com/
http://www.santarosafarmersmarket.blogspot.com/  (provides a listing of most of the vendors)
http://www.mateogranados.com/

I haven't yet been, but I've heard you can find many of the same food and vendors at the Sebastopol Farmer's Market on Sundays.  Guess you know where to find me.





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