On my second trip to Italy in October of 2003 I was fortunate to attend and participate in a Polenta Fest with a new friend Luciana Pancera at her Villa called Villa Vallerosa. She hosted the party in a barn like structure with long tables. The tables were fitted with long wide planks of new wood. Outside the door of the barn her husband Luigi cooked polenta in a copper pot over a wood fire. People lingered and nibbled on figs and proscuito while they waited for the polenta to be ready. When it was, Luigi and a couple of others hoisted the copper pot and slowly pour the hot golden polenta directly on the wooden planks. Luciana spread the polenta across the planks and quickly topped it with a rich meat sauce. Sausages were added and platters of cheese were passed to the group of guest who by now had surrounded the long table. As the polenta hardened the guest peeled it from the plank and devoured it. It was quite an affair. Something I have never forgotten.
A few years ago Anne and I recreated this Polenta Fest for a group of Fiore customers. It was a great time, but not quite the same as it was in Italy, but for South Pasadena it was special. We also did this Polenta Fest for our friends Brad and Tim of the magazine Peloton. They did a story about the Polenta Fest for their magazine.
On September 25th we will host another Polenta Fest. If you are interested in attending please stop by to sign up. Click on the link above for more information.
Here are a few photographs from the farm.
New fig tree planted in a whiskey barrel. I have another one if anyone would like it.
Charlyn’s Kumquat Tree
New compost. Come by and help yourself.
The farm is flourishing this summer and the two biggest contributors are blackberries and heirloom tomatoes. I haven’t had much luck with heirlooms in the past, but this year they are fantastic. They are not ripe, but very close. The blackberries are abundant. We have so many blackberries and the vines have spread everywhere. I allotted one raised bed for them, but they don’t want to stay in one place. They remind me of the mint that is now growing throughout the garden.
I have a few Japanese shiso plants if you would like one.
A very healthy shiso plant
I still have compost if anyone needs some.
Summer is here and tomatoes are finally in season and plentiful at the farmer’s market. The heirloom tomatoes at the Fiore Farm are not quite ready, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start running the heirloom tomato sandwich with farmer’s market tomatoes. I picked some up today from the market in Old Town Pasadena. Take a look.
Here are the Fiore tomatoes that we’re waiting on.
New bread class is scheduled for Tuesday July 15th at 7:00pm. If you are interested in signing up please stop by the restaurant to sign up and pay.
Here is a photograph of the first tomato. It is rather small and not quite ripe enough, but it looks good. Spent the last 2 days thinning out the tomato plants. I discovered lots of tomatoes in various stages, but none ready for the homemade bread. I am hoping soon. Here are a few photographs.
I will have pork belly hopefully Wednesday and Thursday. I will serve it on our homemade bread with homemade fig jam and arugula.
Still have tomato plants if anyone would like a few.
This past Saturday we baked 93 loaves of bread. It was the first time we baked that many loaves and it was still not enough for the business. We ran out of bread around 4:30pm. When we opened Fiore Market Cafe 34 loaves on a Saturday was a pretty big deal. The guys would moan about having to make that may loaves. Now 34 loaves is a walk in the park. The only day the guys moan now is Friday afternoon when we start to prepare the dough for Saturday. This Friday we will make 102 loaves. Yikes. Each loaf is made by hand so it takes time, but we have 4 guys making the bread. Last Friday we pumped out the 93 loaves in under an hour. We’ve gotten quick over the last 3 years.
The tomato plans are doing well. I hope to have some ripe tomatoes in about 3 weeks. That seems early to me but I am excited for tomatoes.
The farm is doing quite well. We harvested fava beans on Saturday and made a spread with mascrapone cheese , fava beans and arugula. The fava beans and the arugula were from the garden. With the spread we made an open face sandwich with grilled yellow zucchini, shaved Parmesan cheese and more whole fava beans sprinkled on top.
The artichokes have grown so tall the almost touch the sky. The tomatoes plants have blossoms and the basil is growing slowly. The Swiss chard continue to provide month after month. The swiss chard has been in that same bed for almost 2 years. It’s hard to believe.
We are still looking for space to expand the farm. If anyone has suggestions please send us an email.
I found an empty lot on Monterrey east of Fair Oaks. Power lines hover above the empty lot so I assume it’s owned by Cal Trans or the city or the state. I don’t know. It would be the perfect spot to build some raised beds.
The bread class for May 27 is booked. I will have another class in July.
Here are some photographs from the farm.