If you have ever had the pleasure of dining at chef Caroline Glover's restaurant, Annette, located in the Stanley Marketplace, then you know she loves local and seasonal vegetables. So much, in fact, that she can be found at a couple of farmers' markets two or three times a week.
"I love seeing everything together when coming up with menu ideas," she says about the Cherry Creek Farmers' Market, where we met to do some shopping last Wednesday morning. "Even if I don't have anything to buy, I come to take a look."
On this particular day the chef had plenty to pick up, and she started with a brilliant bunch of flowers from Pastures of Plenty Farm out of Longmont. The blossoms would help deck out her sunny spot, and the head of cabbage she reached for as she handed the bouquet to be wrapped would make a delicious sauerkraut. Before she paid, Glover had also added a bunch of Sierra Bianca onions and handful of deep-purple Japanese eggplants that she assigned to be preserved with garlic, chili flakes and vinegar.
"I just started to do this with eggplant and it tastes like pizza," she says while bagging the produce and flowers.
Next, we headed to the Palizzi Farm stand for even more dirt candy. The Brighton farm has, says the chef, the first pick of just about any produce you can imagine. It was easy to take what she said at face value as we perused the neat piles of smooth red tomatoes, a giant bin of peaches and cream corn, bell peppers in a variety of colors, eggplants, leafy greens, and half a dozen types of beans, all nicely separated. Glover asked for a bunch of dill, something only those who know about can get, and picked up a large bag of green beans.
At Annette, around 90 percent of the food comes from farms in the area. When Glover isn't purchasing goods from the Cherry Creek Farmers' Market, she's getting produce from DeLaney Community Farm and Dahlia Campus Farms and Gardens, to name a couple of her main suppliers. She also visits the Stanley Marketplace's farmers' market on Fridays when the need arises.
Tuesday is the first day of the week for Annette, so Wednesdays tend to be a big shopping day for the chef, and although she had full bags and a sore back, she still had stuff to buy. Across from Palizzi Farms' stand rested Eat a Peach Farms from Palisade. Here the chef found cups full of bright heirloom yellow cherry tomatoes, which she stocked up on. Then we visited Forté Fruits, also located in Palisade. Peter Forte has had the farm since 1972 and has gone through 45 harvests. Right now that harvest showcases mango-doughnut peaches, pluots (a cross between an apricot and a plum), peaches, nectarines and some apples. The farm also grows tomatoes, and at just $2 a pound for just about everything, it's not the price tag most people think of when they talk about shopping at the farmers' market.
"Sometimes the market is cheaper then getting it from somewhere else," says Glover. And with prices that ranged from 50-cent large zucchinis to 25-cent organic summer squash to six of the popular Jimmy Nardello sweet peppers for $1, you can see why she says that.
Before the shopping trip ended, Glover stopped for an iced coffee at Jubilee Roasting Co., the roaster who provides beans for Annette. Once she fueled up with caffeine and had filled every bag, she was finally ready to take her haul to the restaurant. The goods we shopped for would end up in dishes such as preserved eggplant with housemade ricotta and lavash, jars of tangy dilly beans, a panzanella salad and other such delights.
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