I’ve been a customer of Tierra from their early Ferry Plaza Farmers market days on Green Street. This fall was the first time I’ve been to the farm stand. It is tiny, but interesting and almost at the foot of the airport exit on 101.
In January, there was less produce, but some lovely root veggies, winter greens, squash and such. There are dried peppers, dried beans, jams, honey, etc.
There were Kelly green, navy blue and pink dried corn cobs that are used to make corn meal which is not de-germed before grinding. Tierra writes that “you are being offered a product in its whole grain form with maximum nutrition and flavor”
To compare, I bought a cup of yellow polenta from Raley's. This had a smoother texture, but almost no flavor compared to the Tierra corn meal.
It was the pretty color that was interesting. Would blue, green, pink, yellow and red corn meal taste different? What would be the color after cooking?
The striking difference was texture, the green smoother, the blue a coarser grind with more hulls. It had more of a bran flavor.
The green produced a polenta that was the color of split pea soup. The blue turned bright purple, the color of purple cauliflower. I haven’t tried the others yet. The site suggests using the pink for Valentine’s Day dishes. However, I think it is already sold out.
I’m sorry I didn’t buy all four colors on my first visit. There wasn’t red, but there was green, pink, blue and a yellow made from dent corn. However, I have never made a thing from corn meal in my life … not one thing. So a pound of each seemed as though it would never get used.
I’ve been having a good time playing with polenta. I’ve both microwaved it and cooked it on the stovetop for hours. While the long-cooked is creamier, for me there isn’t enough of a difference. The microwave is fine.
Today I had an excellent green polenta with asparagus, green garlic, fresh brown mushrooms and a sprinkle of Vella grated Jack cheese … everything microwaved (I nuke the veggies separately and add at the end)
In the long-cooked version, for the blue I added Tierra’s excellent smoked dried onions … my favorite Tierra item … and dried shitakes. I bought the smoked dried tomatoes for the first time, but they don’t have the star power of the onions. I need to figure out something to do with them.
Searching the web, one restaurant made blue polenta with roasted figs … I am keeping some of the blue in the freezer to try that out when fig season returns. It sounds fabulous.
Adding gorgonzola, walnuts or feta are other items I think would stand up well to the heartier blue corn meal. It seems chili flakes are often used to top blue polenta. As I said, I’m having fun with this.
I'm thinking the blue might also make a nice breakfast polenta, sweetened with honey and topped with a dollop of yogurt and fresh blueberries ... maybe frozen blueberries in the polenta.
One bonus of searching the web for mult-colored corn meal info, ideas and recipes, is that I came across Tierra’s blog. It isn’t that obvious on the website. Yes, the link is on the website front page, but there are two other blogs that didn’t have much content. Erica’s blog gives a lot of detail about the items they grow and documents the passing of the seasons.
Here’s the link to the info about the dried corn with beautiful pictures (and a cool photo of corn smut)
What is great about the blog is it makes me want to buy products I’ve walked by such as the honey which is made from the hives on their farm.
I also want to catch the items in season that show up briefly such as wonderberries
The blog also has lots of good info about many of the peppers they grow.
They have a great selection of dried beans. On my first visit they were still in wooden crates, needing to be cleaned. On a recent winter visit, there were fewer veggies so the beans were in all sorts of pots with ladles.
This time I bought the pretty Mrs. Keeney's Pink bean which Tierra writes “ is as unique as they come. Passed down from the pioneer days in Oregon, this bean was a woman named Mrs. Keeney's favorite, a large and hearty bean with a beautiful pink blush to it.”
I haven’t tried them yet. Just a note that Tierra really doesn’t have bags, so bring your own.
The latest entry on the blog is about the badda beans
Here's another good post with photos about Tierra that also includes info about one of their special events - Pizza Pie Under the Sky ... Rosso's pizza with roasted veggies right from the field.
Tierra is such a quick on and off of 101 that it is well-worth a stop if on that stretch of the highway.
The stand doesn’t look like much, but in that tiny space are wonderful things just waiting to be discovered.
651 Airport Blvd, Santa Rosa, CA 95403