Sunday, October 7, 2007

So Long to the Queen Anne Farmer's Market.....

...And a"last crop"nectarine tart
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Last Thursday was it. It's done for the year. The small, but charming Queen Anne Farmers Market made it's debut this June and was an instant hit with the locals. Especially me. I found out that Queen Anne would finally have it's own market the month we were opening up the restaurant, which was in May. Luckily for us, it's location was to be just a few blocks down the street. Immediately, the idea for a weekly series of dessert specials bloomed in my head.

The last week of June this year, the market opened, and my idea took fruition. "Queen Anne Farmer's Market Finales" made it's own debut on my dessert menu with perfect, fresh raspberries from Jesse's Berrie's in Yakima. They were piled on top of freshly churned greek frozen yogurt, drizzled with local lavender honey, and sprinkled with sugared pine nuts.
I walked down the street after work on the first day of the market with the intent to pick up whatever looked the most beautiful, take it back to the restaurant, and create a dessert special for the weekend revolving around whatever I came back with. I did this every week all summer long. Plump, ready to burst, apricots from Bill's Fruits in Puyallup were transformed into a creamy, yet puckery apricot ice cream. Several trips back to Jessie's Berrie's resulted in a fragrant black raspberry compote draped over a layered lemon curd mousse cake, homey blueberry cobbler with lavender ice cream, Ricotta bavarian cream topped with tiny sweet strawberries and balsamic syrup, and my personal favorite: warm blackberry turnovers served over a thick pool of white chocolate-orange creme anglaise. Making each dish was a chance to experience my craft in the most organic way. Picking out fresh, just picked local fruit in the peak of it's prime, and turning it into a spontaneous dessert that celebrates it's flavor, all the while establishing relationships with local farmers.

This last Thursday, I walked my final walk of the year to the market thinking fall. Perhaps I can find some nice ripe pears to brush with honey butter while they bake onto a round of puff dough. Or maybe they will have some acorn squash for little individual pies. I strolled through the stands somewhat unimpressed by it all. Pears were not very ripe, plums are pretty much gone, and the squash selection was kind of lame. I was feeling uninspired when I came across the last stall. Batista Farms had their last crop of nectarines piled up in their yellowy-pink glory and looking like they wanted to go home with me. Naturally, being that it's October, I was a little wary of their quality. Then, I tasted one.....Whoa! They had a smooth, buttery texture that melted in your mouth- and a flavor that screamed Summer at a blustery autumn day. The next morning, they were turned into a warm nectarine almond tart served simply with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and bits of marcona almond brittle

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with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and marcona almond brittle

This buttery rich tart is nothing more than a flaky pate sucree tart shell, filled with frangipane and topped with fresh sliced fruit- I used nectarines this time, but plums, pears, and pitted bing cherries are also delicious. The tarts are then baked until golden and puffy. You end up with a rich, but not too sweet almond filling and perfectly textured fruit who's natural sugars help to create a glazed appearance.

It seems too early to be wrapping up my dessert special series, which was the highlight of each week for me this summer. There are all kinds of goodies coming our way with fall's harvest, which is why most farmer's markets are open through the month of October. But, I am thankful to of at least had a market in my neighborhood this year. So- to Jessie's Berries, Acma Orchirds, Batista Farm, River Valley Ranch, Sidhu Farm, Foraged and Found, and all the other local farmers I had the privilege to visit weekly; thank you for making my job easy with such beautiful produce, and see you next year!


Julie said...

Love your blog! Where can I buy your pastries? Maybe you shouldn't tell me, because an addiction is clearly in the offing.

Thanks for shopping at the QA Farmers Market and sharing your experiences.

Last Thursday was poignant for those of us on the steering committee. After a joyful, exhausting, delicious summer . . . only a few stalls, chill air, and dark falling early.

Please, if you have even an ounce of energy on November 1st, join us for our planning meeting as we look toward next summer.

What would YOU love to see at the market? I'm eager to know!

Mallow said...

Those tarts are gorgeous. I love anything with frangipane! (I'm also mourning the end of the markets for the year!)

Brittany said...

Julie- Thank you for visiting my blog! My desserts can be found at Betty Restaurant, just a few blocks down from where the market was. You guys did a great job with the market this year- every week it seemed to get bigger and better. I would love to come to the planning meeting..what time/where?

Mallow- Thanks! Hey- do you ever sell those adorable lil mittens you have posted on pietown? (I love you blog!)

Valli said...

Too bad I didn't live closer ...I would be frequenting your restaurant every day. All those wonderful desserts!!!

cuisinier said...

Hi Brittany, cool site. I like the set up. Where are you pastry chef at? Oh, now I see at Betty. I have not yet been there but plan to. I will keep checking out your blog. I always like to see what other chefs in town are up to. As I mentioned in my reply from my blog, feel free to email or call and stop by sometime at the club. Best, Bill

Brittany said...

Valli- Thank you, and you'll have to let me know if you are ever in Seattle- we'll give you the royal treatment :)

Bill- Thanks for stopping by! I too, am a fan of your blog and will have to stop by the club sometime. Please feel free as well to stop by Betty to say hello anytime. I am an avid reader of the Tasting Menu, it sounds like Dana really got a lot out of her experience w/you. The pastry chef at Crow and I will be eating at Veil tomorrow- Have you been in since she took over the pastry department there?
By the way- I WILL find a way to try salmon candy one of these days.

Peabody said...

My Farmers Market packed up too :(

70% cocoa said...

I've just been drooling my way down the page, thinking 'I must get in the kitchen'. When I got to your frangipane tart I knew just what it was going to be.

Might have to make it a pear one as we are way over the nectarine season here in the UK (actually, not really aware that we have one at all). I'll point people back here for more inspiration.

Incidentally, our farmers market goes right through the winter, with stall holders shivering gamely and trying to get their fingers to work so they can sell you something. Guess it's that old British stiff upper lip - or rural poverty, not sure which.....

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