Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Community, Local Produce and Talented Foodsmiths Help Carmel Valley Market Take Off

April 14, 2015 – this piece went live on the Edible Monterey Bay blog. Read it there.

Community, Local Produce and Talented Foodsmiths Help Carmel Valley Market Take Off
Story and Photos by Camilla M. Mann

April 14, 2015 – Farmers’ markets have evolved in recent years. No longer are they simply venues where farmers bring their fruits and vegetables. Certainly there is no dearth of farmers showcasing their freshest, in-season produce, but market stalls now also house artisanal foods, crafts, and services. The fledgling market in Carmel Valley’s Village is no exception. There are things to buy, things to try, and things that make you pause and squeal in delight. Yes, literally squeal.

Friday afternoons from 2pm to 6pm, the parking lot at the Carmel Valley Community Center is crowded with vendors and customers—some familiar faces and some new ones—for example, sixth-grader Jake Reisdorf, who runs Carmel Honey Company.

Jake excitedly explained how his business evolved from an assignment when one of his teachers at Carmel River School tasked the students with creating a website. Instead of setting up a fictional business, Reisdorf decided to pursue beekeeping. Now a student at Carmel Middle School, he has nurtured a school project into a successful entrepreneurial venture.

Reisdorf started with two hives last year. In addition to selling honey, he’s now at the point where he can deliver hives to people who want the pollination services of his bees. His eyes lit up when he proudly shared, “I don’t filter my honey. When you filter your honey, you’re taking out the pollen. The pollen causes the honey to crystallize—so honey-bee guys don’t like it—but it’s the pollen that can help with allergies.”

Farmers travel from just around the corner—such as Carmel Valley’s own Serendipity Farms –and from further afield. Cipponeri Farms drives from Turlock to peddle colorful tubs of dried fruits and almonds. Medina Berry Farm and Rodriguez Ranch come from Watsonville in Santa Cruz County and Avila Farms, out of Hollister, represents San Benito County.

The prepared items are just as varied and intriguing. Sharing a booth with Central Coast Juicery’s Mark Kaltenbacher is Shiho Fukushima whose food-related ventures include managing her family’s Ocean Sushi Deli, critiquing restaurants for Monterey County Weekly, and running a gluten-free catering company. Fukushima, under the umbrella of Gluten-Free Shiho, has recently launched Bone Dashi. Dashi means ‘broth’ in Japanese.

Her bone broth takes two days to make and she’s a devotee of its benefits. Suffering from leaky gut syndrome, Fukushima explains, “Bone broth—rich in collagen, gelatin, and amino acids—calms my gut.” So, along with Kaltenbacher’s raw, cold-pressed juices, Fukushima offers jars of her bone dashi, made with Fogline Farms chicken bones and beef bones from Morris Grassfed. One sip of her warmed, calming brew and I was convinced of its restorative power.

Another fun addition to the market community is the husband-wife team of Monterey Meringues. Leigh Zimmerman and Domenick Allen are making multi-hued meringues whose trademarked names pay homage to classic rock legends, including Oreo® Speedwagon, Nuts ‘N Roses™, Black-berry Sabbath™, and The Almond Brothers™.

Zimmerman studied the art of baking meringues and macarons at Le Cordon Bleu in London before relocating to Monterey with her family. Together Zimmerman, Allen, and their teenage daughter have added some flair and panache to the usually austere, white teardrop-shaped treat. Monterey Meringues’ morsels have crunchy exteriors around a billowy center. And, surprisingly, the cheerful colors are achieved with all-natural vegetable and fruit powders.

Along with Reisdorf, Fukushima, Zimmerman and Allen, market organizer Jerry Lami has curated a talented crew of vendors. You can purchase wood-fired pizza from Tricycle Pizza, infused vinegars from OMG Vinegars, Middle Eastern spread and dips from Hummus Heaven, and eco-friendly screened bags and totes from Bee, Bark, and Moss. In its infancy—last Friday was market number four—Carmel Valley’s Friday Farmers’ Market is already a veritable celebration of community, local produce, and talented foodsmiths.