This is my favorite time of the year at the farmers market. Finally things are ripening, and the farmers bring in a wide range of items to drool over. The end of the summer is pepper time, and the peppers were out in force on Saturday.
For a few years Happy Quail Farms has been selling Pimientos de Padrón, a small pepper from Spain that make a popular tapas when fried in olive oil and sprinkled with coarse salt. I love them, but at $6 for a small bag (4 oz.?) they have been expensive. This weekend, Mariquinta Farms was selling 8 oz. baskets of these delicious little peppers for $5. Hooray for competition, I say! Mariquinta was also selling some "Heart Pimento Peppers" which are an interesting heart-shaped pepper quite close to a red bell pepper in taste (perhaps a bit sweeter).
Happy Quail Farms remains the Pepper King, though. They had a gorgeous display of colored sweet bell peppers including chocolate and purple, in addition to red, orange and yellow. This is the place to get supplies for a dinner party salad that might end up being too pretty to eat.
Another pepper surprise was someone selling baskets of Thai "prik" (birds beak) chilies. These chilies must be the source of the rule of thumb about smaller chilies being hotter. These are REALLY hot. I bought a basket and cut up one-half of a chili to put in scrambled eggs this morning. Sure woke me up! Thai food will be on the menu some time this week.
I also always visit the Far West Fungi stand inside the Ferry Building, as they seem to find and offer some really obscure and interesting mushrooms. In the past two weeks I've see Huitlacoche, Chanterelles, Fairy Rings, Lobster mushrooms, Shiatakes, Bluefoot mushrooms, and pink oyster mushrooms.
The Fairy Ring mushrooms were miniature, perfectly-formed toadstools. I bought some and sautéed them, which was a mistake. They are too fragile to handle such heat, and ended up shriveled and charred. They need a much more delicate preparation, perhaps steamed. Oh well, if at first you don't succeed, don't fry again.
Happy farmers market exploring!
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
One Ferry Building, 200 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA