I knew the local produce outlook was bleak, but sunshine brightened my trip to today’s season debut of the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market in Medford.
As a recent food story on the market’s opener explained, salad mix is nearly the only offering for most local growers who lost field crops to an unexpected December freeze. Fry Family Farm also salvaged some potatoes, cabbage and green onions for their stall.
Check the Mail Tribune’s online market calendar to plan your trips through these first couple months of scarcity. Farm-fresh eggs and prepared foods, such as baked goods, cheese, honey, olive oil and tamales fill the early-season void.
Happily, wild mushrooms are in flush. Louis Jeandin of Mushrooms All Year has spring’s first morels, along with chanterelle, black trumpet and hedgehog mushrooms, all coastal species. On his trips west, Jeandin also picks fiddleheads, the succulent tops of unfurling ferns. There’s a narrow window to enjoy these, preferably just lightly sauteed. Their flavor is like smelling the conifer forest after a light rain.
Because I’d usually toss the mushrooms and fiddleheads with fresh pasta, the loss of “Pasta” Dave Deichler weighs heavy. The former stall of Wolf Creek Pasta Co. has been maintained as a memorial with a guest book for customers and friends to share their memories and appreciation. A previous post paid tribute to Dave, who died in January at age 59.