August 08, 2006

The neighborhood farmstand - Windmill Farms

Several hours of mostly uninterrupted searching the Internets reveals there's not a farmers' market to be found on Mondays in the seven bay area counties. What's a woman on a mission to do? Our heroine finds her answer less than a mile down the road from the local mega-mart: the charming family-run Windmill Farms.

Reminiscent of the farmstands that pepper many northern California highways and backroads, Windmill Farms beckons potential customers with colorful roadside signs announcing what's fresh and on sale. While the highlight of market is an abundance of mostly local produce, they've also dedicated small sections to grocery & dairy staples like milk, bread and pantry staples, eclectic wines and snacks for the weary traveler. They are the local source for fresh spring strawberries & asparagus, late summer Brentwood corn and all of the bounty in between. In October, their mostly open-air establishment transforms into a pumpkin patch. In December, the freshest holiday trees short of cut-your-own.

For those concerned about where and how their produce is grown, each display carries another colorfully penned old-world sign announcing the town, the farm, and whether the product was grown conventionally, organically, with or without chemicals. Got more questions? Just ask. The staff is friendly and eager to answer your questions. Good luck finding this kind of service up the road or around the corner.

After snapping some photographs to provide the four of you who read this a visual appreciation of the shopping experience, I grabbed a couple of avocados and a package of sweet 100 cherry tomatoes and headed for home to prepare my contribution to movie night in: guacamole.

My version of guacamole owes its inspiration to one of my father's dear friends. Maria believed that in most things culinary, less really is more.



Diced red onion.

Chipotle, if it's handy.

Under no circumstances whatsoever do mayonnaise, sour cream or other relatively bland white ingredients enter the equation.

So I sliced my avocado and mashed it with a fork until I had the right creamy-to-chunky ratio. Gently stirred in some halved sweet 100's, a small handful of diced red onion. Sprinkled a pinch of salt and a liberal couple of shakes of ground chipotle powder. Served with grilled tortillas, a couple of Coronas and some Coke for the kids.

Old-world snack food, courtesy of Maria and the Smith family at Windmill Farms...

Windmill Farms Produce
2255 San Ramon Valley Blvd, San Ramon, CA 94583

Technorati Tags: | | Eating Locally


Anonymous said...

I was so pleased to find your wonderful piece on Windmill Farms. I have been buying produce there for over thirty years and I find the whole experience to be a breath of fresh air. I dropped by the day before Thanksgiving and as I checked out I was given instructions on how to prepare butternut squash. I brought the dish to dinner the next day and everyone raved about how delicious it was. -- Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

It made me feel good to read your review of Windmill Farms. My father and uncle have owned and run Windmill for over 30 years. Sadly I found this review when searching for an online re-brodcast of a news story on the fight to save the store from unfair attacks from the health department. For anyone else that happened across this with the negative stories too, please keep this in mind... no business that has health concerns would still be in business after 30 years. This review is what Windmill is about, a family owned business that has a special place in the community.

Anonymous said...

I too am very upset at the prospect of loosing a wonderful market like Windmill Farms. I have been feeling the push on the farm for a while now and would like to say that I really hope that they are happy now that they found a reason to put the family out of business for the gluttenous reason of money!! The people of San Ramon have to band together because the City obviously won't touch it and probably can't for all I know. Windmill has been "Keeping it Real" and keeping us healthy for for a long time now and we need that more then another pop up store USA any day!!