Markets & Stores

Gallo / Mirasseau / Evergreen Farmer's Market in SJ

Stanley Stephan | Jun 23, 200301:06 AM    

Ok, it's really called the Evergreen Farmer's Market and it hugs the front of the former Mirassou Winery in San Jose.

How many farmers markets can you wander around the stands with a glass of wine in one hand. What a great concept.

This is a tiny, seasonal, neighborhood farmers market. There's about 20 - 25 vendors. The usual's are there ... Happy Boy, Zuckerman’s, and the ever present Quick N EZ Indian food, using the Suhki name.

I was eyeing some figs and thinking that they looked exactly like Hamada (ok I went slumming at the Ferry Plaza Market on Saturday). It turned out they WERE Hamada.

The find here was the unnamed gelato maker that later in the day made crepes (some savory, some fruit). There were four flavors of gelato, chocolate hazelnut with big chunks of nuts and a deep chocolate flavor, raspberry, a mango that was made just at 4am that morning with chunks of mango. My favorite was the clean tasting vanilla.

I asked the vendor for her business name and she said she didn't know yet. She was hoping to open in San Francisco in the future, but was trying out the gelato at a few farmers markets. She sells at the Sunnyvale market as well.

She said she only used fresh ingredients and didn't used the the prepared gelato mixes. You could have hit me over the head with a hammer. It never occurred to me that some restaurants would make gelato from a mix. Horrors !!!

What a mellow market. Surrounded by 22 acres of zinfandel vines that were planted in 1973, there are two country / bluegrass guitar players singing songs like Honky Tonk Angels.

You can drop into the tasting room for generous samples or buy a glass outside. For six dollars, you can keep the glass. Refills are $3.

The vendors don't seem to have the usual requirement to sell only their own produce. Zuckerman's was selling blueberries in addition to their potatoes. Ibbarra-Cruz, who I understand sells other farmers produce, had a stand there.

This seems to be a place where smaller, newer vendors can find a spot at the market, in addition to the usuals. In prepared foods there was a Philappino food stand (D & J Foods) that was deep frying fresh beef and vegetable lumpia. They also sold Bibinka which are baked rice cakes. There was a cooler of Smoked and marinated Milk fish. They looked like big round flat frozen fish.

Beckman's was selling bread. Le Pain D'Or was selling muffins.

La Fleur de Lyon was selling strawberry, apricot, apple and cranberry breads in addition to savory tarts like mushroom and spinach. The also sold a free range chicken pie. It sounded delicious, but was sold out. The baker, Guy Bierbaum, sells a few of his savory turnovers at the Berkley Bowl, but I think they are in the frozen section.

I had a delicious turnover, packed with mushrooms. The delicate dough is made with butter, cream cheese an organic unbleached flour. The filling also contains bermuda onions, Madeira, Bechamel, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

La Fleur de Lyon is located on 1314 Elm Street in El Cerrito, Ca. The owner is passionate about his product and will talk to you about it in loving detail.

The Whole Bean of Santa Cruz was selling some excellent coffee. Really a mellow, tasty blend that was not the usual strong Bay Area Brew. Of course they were organic, shade grown, and fair trade coffee. IMO, they were much, much better than Thanksgiving Coffee which is also organic, etc, etc...

This is the second year for this market. Very relaxing. Bring your Sunday paper and sit under the olive trees sipping wine, listening to music and nibbling on goodies.

Or you can sit on the brick patio of the Max Huebner Rose Garden among the fragrant flowers and under the huge pine tree. A large, colorful, fragrant lavender bush is in one corner. There are a few picnic tables.

Max (1899 - 1979) was a winemaker at the winery for over 30 years. The garden is in his honor. Sitting on the wooden bench in the garden, all you can see is flowers, grapevines palm trees and the golden hills. You can pretend the mini malls and housing tracts that now surround the area are not there.

I haven't kept up with Winery News, so I was unaware that Gallo bought the Mirassou name in October. All that was sold to Gallo was the name. The Mirassou family will continue to produce wine under a different label. The winery is transitioning to the name "La Rochelle". The family will produce boutique wines.

They also plan to have a number of sunset dinners and cooking classes. The new web site will be active on June 30th. The address is www.LRWine.com
If you key that in currently, it directs you to the old Mirassou site. There is info about the events on the site.

I lived in San Jose in the eighties and loved Mirassou. In those days the road beyond the winery narrowed and the hills were covered with vines and not houses. They would have lovely Christmas programs where you could wander all over the winery and there were live groups of musicians in various locations along with free wine and appetizers. Even though the operation will continue, I'm sorry to see the passing of the Mirassou name to a large corporation.

I found out about this market from the KQED series on local farmer's markets. It sounded pleasant, and it was.

Not a destination farmers market, but nice if you live in the area or are visiting. I decided to check it out during my yearly trip to Sunnyvale for CJ Olson cherries.

You might check out Lunardi's Market which is in a new deveopment around the corner from the vinyard. This brand new supermarket has one of the most impressive meat / seafood counters I have ever seen. You can see huge beef legs and sides hanging on hooks in a glass cooler. The fish department had fresh sardines, smelt, and sand dabs amoung a huge variety of fish. There were some pretty impressive shrimp there as well.

The market has a decent wine department with a tasting counter. There's a sushi counter with an on-site sushi maker, although the it looked like standard supermarket sushi. The rest was just your regular market. The deli / bakery was ok, but not anywehere near an Andronicos.

Link: http://www.kqed.org/topics/home/cooki...

Image: http://www.kqed.org/topics/home/cooki...

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