Category Archives: Great Finds

Good Things Come In — Farm Box

Some of the impeccable produce from small farms in this past Saturday's Farm Box.
Some of the impeccable produce from small farms in this past Saturday’s Farm Box.

Andreas Winsberg is used to growing things. The son of a farmer — David Winsberg of East Palo Alto’s Happy Quail Farms that started the craze for pimentos de Padron in California — he’s been helping his dad plant those prized Spanish peppers and sell them at the San Francisco Ferry Building farmers market since he can remember.

Now, it’s this 25-year-old’s turn to germinate something special of his own.

In late-March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit full bore in the Bay Area and shelter-in-place restrictions took hold, he created Farm Box, a weekly curated farmers market box that customers can get delivered to their door or pick up at the Ferry Plaza farmers market on Saturdays or the Menlo Park farmers market on Sundays.

Farm Box was developed by 409 + Co, a design agency that Andreas founded with fellow 20-something alums of Pennsylvania’s Haverford College, Stephen Davis and Jessie Lamworth.

They didn’t set out to do this. But realizing just how complicated buying groceries and food was about to become for people, they rose to the challenge to build out a new web-delivery business to help small-scale, local farmers, whose goods are so perishable, reach more customers.

Contactless delivery to my porch.
Contactless delivery to my porch.
The reveal of what's inside.
The reveal of what’s inside.

“Seeing what my dad was going through, and fearing that the farmers market might shut down, was the impetus,’’ Andreas says. “We’re not in it to get rich, but to help farmers and others who need the boost now.’’

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Republique’s Fig-Tahini Cookies

These fig-tahini cookies are not only pretty to look at, but have a wondrous chewy texture.
These fig-tahini cookies are not only pretty to look at, but have a wondrous chewy texture.

Mochi, gummi bears, springy noodles, and ideal chocolate chip cookies.

What do they have in common?

A certain chewiness that I can’t resist.

And “Fig-Tahini Cookies” possess that ideal attribute in abundance.

It’s evident not only in the consistency of the cookie, itself, but also in the chopped dried figs hidden throughout.

The recipe is from “Baking at République: Masterful Techniques and Recipes” (Lorena Jones Books, 2019), of which I received a review copy.

The cookbook is by Margarita Manzke, co-owner of Republique restaurant and bakery in Los Angeles. The book, written with former Los Angeles Times food writer Betty Hallock, features all the favorite pastries, cookies, cakes and pies from this fabulous bakery that’s a must-stop whenever my husband and I drive to Los Angeles.

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Black Cod with Hoisin and Ginger Sauces

Saucy and sensational black cod.
Saucy and sensational black cod.

Are you salivating yet?

You should be — because “Black Cod with Hoisin and Ginger Sauces” is one of those gifts of a dish.

It’s incredibly easy, made with a succulent fish that’s forgiving should you accidentally overcook it, and amped up with a compelling sauce that’s a whirlwind of ginger, honey, garlic, chili paste, hoisin and soy sauce.

In short, it eats like classic Chinese steamed fish with ginger and green onions — but has a much more powerfully tasting presence.

The recipe is from Henry’s End restaurant in Brooklyn via Epicurious.

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Louisa’s Cake

A sunny ricotta cake that is so moist, buttery, and rich.
A sunny ricotta cake that is so moist, buttery, and rich.

We all grew up seeing our parents and grand-parents, who lived through the Great Depression, wars, and/or famines, take care — to the extreme — to not let any drop of sauce from a can, any heel of bread or any minute shred of fish off the bone ever go to waste.

Not on their watch.

And now, not on ours, either.

With the pandemic creating food shortages — both real and exaggerated ones — we find ourselves looking at food much differently now, treating everything with the reverence it deserved all along.

The very bottom stems of parsley that I once tossed? No more. Now, they get finely diced and tossed into salads and soups. Those radish tops I once never looked twice at? Now, I savor them sauteed in an egg scramble.

The leftover ricotta I had from making lamb meatballs? Not that I would deign to ever throw something like that out, but these days, it takes on an outsize importance. Yes, that leftover ricotta that I once just nonchalantly enjoyed with berries for breakfast the next day, now seemed too good for that. Clearly, it should be destined for something far more special, I thought.

I found exactly that in “Louisa’s Cake.”

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Keep Calm & Eat Cheese

Loads of spicy, smoky flavor -- that's why Cypress Grove's Chipotle Cocoa delivers big-time.
Loads of spicy, smoky flavor — that’s why Cypress Grove’s Chipotle Cacao delivers big-time.

When it comes to cooking, it’s the little things in life that make such a difference now — crunchy sea salt, olive oil with a real personality, and an exceptional cheese with flavor to spare that elevates anything it touches.

That’s why I felt like I had truly hit the culinary jackpot when Humboldt County’s Cypress Grove sent me samples during this just-the-basics-ma’am, hunker-down-and-make-do kind of time.

Because it’s soft-ripened goat cheeses are anything but banal. Since 1983, this Arcata, CA-based cheesemaker has been turning out award-winning wheels. Since 2017, it’s taken a fancy turn each year to its classic Humboldt Fog by making limited-edition remixes that feature herbs and spices added.

This year, Cypress Grove ups the equation by not only adding the familiar ripple of flavoring at the center of the cheese, but also mixing it into the cheese paste through and through. The result is wallop of flavor.

This year’s line-up includes the Dill Remix, which was released in April; the Chipotle Cacao that will debut in summer; and the Haze Remix due in the fall.

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