Perusing the colorful fruit and veggies at the Certified Farmers’ Market in Cesar Chavez Plaza is always a delight, but it’s not everyday that you get to explore the market through the eyes of acclaimed Executive Chef Oliver Ridgeway of Grange Restaurant & Bar. Did you know that Grange supports the local farming community by purchasing much of the restaurant’s produce and meat from local farms?
Chef Ridgeway is especially passionate about serving farm-fresh ingredients on his menus, made evident during the seasonal “Follow the Chef” Farmers’ Market Tours. Every Wednesday, Chef Ridgeway personally leads walking tours through the market for a small group of guests and crafts a seasonally-inspired lunch to follow. I was lucky enough to participate in the tour recently and walked away with a new appreciation for farm-fresh produce and Grange’s fine dining experience.
On our walk through Cesar Chavez Plaza, Chef Oliver spoke about the personal relationships he’s built with the growers and the benefits of knowing where your produce comes from. As he strolled by each vendor, the Chef talked about cooking with the seasons and how Grange’s menus are always developed around what the farmers’ are growing.
And then it was time for the market-inspired meal. As a closet foodie, I couldn’t wait to experience the exclusive, off-menu, 3-course meal the Chef would create for us. We started with a vibrant salad from a collection of produce hand selected from the market earlier that day: Armenian cucumber, grilled asparagus, peas, charred green onion and stone fruit atop a bed of burrata cheese lightly dressed with balsamic. Delicious!
For the “protein course” (I’m a carnivore so this is always my favorite part), we enjoyed steak from local Masami Ranch accompanied by potatoes from Full Belly Farms, summer squash and green garlic from the market, and blackberry jus. To say it was mouth-watering is a huge understatement.
Last, dessert. Oh dessert, how I love you. Grange’s pastry chef crafted a delectable celebration of peaches, including mandolin-thin slivers of white peach, white chocolate, creamy yogurt and a subtle white peach sauce. Needless to say, my plate was CLEAN in a few short minutes.
When: Every Wednesday at 11am through October 28, 2015.
Where: 926 J Street, Sacramento CA 95814
Cost: $39 per person (excluding tax & gratuity)