August 08, 2006

If it's Tuesday, it must be Bel.. er... San Mateo - Market day on the Peninsula

“Give me book, fruit, French wine, and fine weather and a little music out of doors played by someone I do not know.” John Keats

I commuted faithfully across the San Mateo bridge for almost three years. During my tenure with the empire that Tom built, I did quite well in the culinary arena. I scored reservations at some of the finest dining establishments on the peninsula. I shopped religiously at Draegers and Whole Foods. But somehow I never managed to get to the farmers' market.

So despite the fact that nothing about the market on 25th Avenue in San Mateo could be described as "on the way home" I was willing to drive counter-commute to check it out. I'm glad I did.

The Experience: In comparison to my previous stops on this week's market tour, the 25th Street venue is far lower-profile. The market's osted by the First Presbyterian Church in a tree-lined residential neighborhood. Parking's impossible in San Francisco and a challenge in Walnut Creek. In San Mateo, I could have parked in the section of the church lot reserved for shoppers, but chose a spot a couple of blocks away and enjoyed a warm summer evening walk to and from my destination.

Many of the vendors in San Mateo were specialists, offering a selection of one or two core products rather than an entire mini-produce department in each booth. One vendor with nothing but stone fruit in every color of the rainbow. A second with strawberries the size of a credit card. An elderly couple with a large selection of organic herbs. And a charming genetleman offering samples of the sweetest picked-today Brentwood corn.

The Market Bag: In the end, the corn-farmer won my heart (or at least my market budget for the day).
Just like that, Grilled Corn with Chipotle Butter makes an appearance on this week's menu. I love the spontenaity that summer produce allows.

On the Menu: Grilled Corn with Chipotle Butter

4-6 ears of fresh corn, silks removed
1/2 cube of butter, room temperature
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, mashed


We wing this one. After removing the silks from the corn, I wrap it back in the husks and hand it to John. He tosses it on the grill, on the edges while the protein of choice cooks. Once we remove the protein, we move the corn to the center and cover the grill. We rotate the corn every ten minutes or so, and unusally pronounce it done about the time our guests are ready to carve into the protein without us. So far this completely unscientific approach to grilled corn hasn't failed us.

The chipotle butter is even easier. I just mash the butter and the chipotles together with a drop or two of the adobo sauce until the butter looks like it's got pretty dark red freckles. Put it in a ramekin and refrigerate overnight. Unmold the butter just like jello -- soak the ramekin in a bath of lukewarm water until the butter slides out easily.

Stay tuned... tomorrow the market comes home.

25th Avenue Farmers' Market, San Mateo
194 W 25th Ave., San Mateo
Tuesdays, 4-8 PM (through October 31, 2006)

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