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Markets & Stores 4

Market du jour - HMB farmers market & HMB questions

Stanley Stephan | May 17, 200308:17 PM

For those familiar with Half Moon Bay, I have a few questions at the end.

The poster last week who said the now two week old Half Moon Bay farmers Market in the parking lot of Cetrella was small wasn't kidding.

Even so, there were a few finds there.

The Rancho Alegre lavander stand had some interesting (and delicious) products. There's a link to info about the farm below. The Mon Cheri Cooking School in Sunnyvale had bagged cookies made with Rancho Alegre Lavender. including:
- lavender chili cheese bites
- plain and chocolate lavender merangues
- plain and chocolate lavender butter spritz cookies
- lavender chocolate shortbread

I bought the latter which was really wonderful. It seems that chocolate and lavender complement each other wonderfully and the buttery delicious shortbread was excellent.

The Lavender apple cider mix was recommended, but since it's not the time of year for hot apple cider, I passed.

There were also a number of spices
- Lavander ginger seasoning
- lavender salt
- lavender chili seasoning
- lavender culinary buds

Having a lifetime supply of lavender salt from Eatwell farms, I was reluctant to buy, but there were tiny packets in a recipe packet from Mon Cheri with some excellent sounding recipes like lavender chili sauteed mushrooms. Baked spicy lavender apple pork chops, creamy lavender spinach dip and a lamb chop recipe that really looks excellent.

Rancho Allegre also had lovely soaps and gifts as well as tiny live lavender plants - grosso, provence and English ($2). Really nice gift packs as well. I understand they sell at the San Mateo Farmers Market as well.

Daylight Farms had the best herbs I have ever seen ... anywhere. I forgot to ask if they were organic.

Harley Farms had lovely goat cheeses. They have some beautiful goats in Pescadero down the road from Phipps Ranch. You may have seen these cheeses as Whole Foods. They have the beautiful flowers. The market cheese was super fresh. I tried the cheese topped with dried crannberries which was wonderful. The almost creme-fraiche like goat cheese was complemented by the sweet cranberries.

The rest of the market may still be in the growth stages. Many of the listed vendors were not there. This week was heavy on local produce - artichokes, English peas, Fava beans (%1.50 for 1 1/2 pounds at one vendor), greens, onions, fresh garlic. There was a vendor who sold crab and salmon from his boat (too windy this week for crabs).

The problem with the market, is that most of the stands were things you could buy at any farm stand around HMB. If I lived in HMB the only reason I'd go there is for those wonderful herbs from Daylight Farms.

Also there was not one piece of fruit in the market. Not a basket of strawberries in strawberry season. Come on, this has to be the closest market to Swanton berries which I'm beginning to think of as the Farmer's market whore. Is there a farmers market BESIDES this one that Swanton doesn't sell it's berries?

Another weakness was that not one vendor had samples. Then again, the prices were so inexpensive. However some samples would have been nice.

Cetrella had a little outdoor stand like Hayes Street Grill at the Ferry Plaza with food being cooked over a large charcoal grill. One women next to me gushed, "Oh it looks like the SF market". Uh, yeah. I STILL don't have luck with Cetrella. I chose the frittata with asparagus, feta and goat cheese ($4). It has a surprise element of mint. It was rubbery and inedible. Mint and eggs is a nice combo though and almost made it edible.

The roasted beet salad on wild arugula with mozzarella was better ($4). This was the best fresh mozzarella I have ever had. Two cotton puff sized balls that almost melted when you bit into them. They were almost on the verge of oozing milk but held the milk to make a wonderful creamy cheese. The wild arugula which I was eyeing at Daylight Farms almost tasted like a wonderful light sorrell ... the same pleasantly sour grass taste. The beets were very nice as well. Although each element was delicous and they didn't fight each other, they didn't come together either.

Nice strawberry lemon aqua fresca ... more of a strawberry nector, just the right light touch of lemon. It seemed there was no sugar only the sweet strawberry flavor coming through. Well done.

There was also
- Breakfast focaccia with red graps and brown sugar ($2)
- Charbroiled fresh whole sardines ($2)
- Grilled chicken and grilled salmon sandwiches ($6)
- Artichoke, mushroom, mint and lemon salad ($4)

Looked good, but avoid the fritata. Cafe Roma coffee served.

I lucked out. This was the same week as the flower market and there was also a car show with old 'woodies' parked along Main Street near the Flower Market. The flower market is a HMB block long with about a dozen vendors of garden plants and cut flowers. Flower market is the third Saturday of the month. Live music at the plaza across from the flower market.

Made my pilgrimage to The Smokehouse in El Granada. They have the best cold smoked salmon ... very much like lox but richer, more buttery and thicker.

Looking to try another fish store in the area I went to "Ship to Shore" in the Princeton Marina. Yuck. No local fish and what was there was wrapped in plastic.

I decided to try The Fresh Fish House. You know the place. You see the sign near Barbara's and Meza Luna advertising fresh fish. It's been more than a decade since I've been there and they have really gotten there act together. When I walked in I saw "Alaskan" Salmon and Halibut and almost left. But these were no shrinked wrapped hacked up fillets.

These whole fish covered with ice called my name. There also was a lovely white salmon. I know, I know, it's the diet that makes them white. Big deal. But the fish was just beautiful and two steaks were cut from the whole fish for me. I apolagize in advance that this beautiful fish will suffer tonight at my inept cooking hands.

The owner (I'm assuming) was really enthusiastic about fish, saying next week was the beginning of Wild Salmon season. This place has other fish, but salmon is their specialty. He was really honest about the fish. He had Alaskan and local whole halibut. I asked the difference and he said the local halibut was just for sashimi. If you cooked it it taste like a 2 x 4.

There were huge sinks of live crabs where the water was kept flowing. There was absolutely no fishy smell here. They had some lovely looking oysters, New Zealand mussels (the color green was in the name) and East Coast steamers. All the fish looked stellar.

The address is 230 Princton Ave. Just follow the signs.

Ok, if anyone is still reading from HMB. Has anyone tried a restaurant called Gibralter. It looked lovely and seemed to have a wonderful view of the Harbor. It's just down the street from The Smokehouse.the HMB Chamber of Commerce makes it sound wonderful.

Also, The across from Meza Luna is a little coffee shop. They serve a limited Mexican food menu, but it's mostly sandwiches. When I asked about the Mexican food, the owner's face just lighted up and he was talking about how delicious it was. Anyone tried them?

your could put together a beautiful afternoon tea with the products at HMB ... the jewel like Harley goat cheese, lavendar cookies, cream cheese with that wonderful smokehouse cold smoked salmon.



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