My intention with this post is to encourage all of your Nothern Californians to find your way to a famer's market this week and buy some cherries, some apricots, basically any fruit with a pit. My assurances that tasty stone fruit were there for the taking last year were based on a lifetime of experience eating grocery store fruit, and a concerted few years of eating farmer's market fruit.
This year's fruit blows last year's away to a startling degree. Startling that is, unless you happen to be a fruit farmer. In which case you probably know that the last couple of years have been good but not great, or maybe even okay but not really good. If you've only recently acquired serious food religion, this is the sort of thing you can't know.
Two Saturdays ago I was surprised to see the Wild Boar Farms booth at the Grand Lake Farmer's Market decked out with cherry tree boughs. I asked Brad if he'd had cherries last year, and he said that he only got a crop every two or three years - when the conditions were just right. As I grabbed a sample cherry, he had Bings and Rainiers, a woman who was arranging to have a case of them delivered to her restaurant offered up that they were the best she'd ever tasted.
This past weekend I stopped by the Lagier Ranches booth and made small talk about how well cherries seemed to be doing. The guy working the stand bellowed,"Finally!" He went on to say that he expected it to be a great year for all stone fruit. As service-oriented as anyone I've ever encountered at the market, he went on to offer to "call John" to find out when Sour Cherries would be available.
It's not just cherries either. One of the guys at the Blossom Bluff Ochards stand, described the taste of their apricots as completely out of left field. I had sampled the fruit and wasn't completely convinced, but there I was at work yesterday looking at a puddle of apricot juice on my desk - unsure of whether or not I could resist slurping it up.
Incidentally, I did not have the guy working the Lagier Ranches booth ring John Lagier at 9:30am on a Saturday morning. Probably the surest sign that I am not cut out to be a high profile food blogger.