One of the best lunches I've ever had did not include prime rib, French cheese, or freshly-caught seafood. No beautifully-appointed dining room. No tuxedoed waiters. No candles.
Last month, I dined al fresco at Earthbound Farm in Carmel Valley, California. If you've ever bought organic salad greens at the grocery store, you've probably seen, probably even tasted, their lettuces and other produce. This year, Earthbound celebrates its 25th anniversary. What started as a tiny venture by two New York transplants selling organic raspberries on 2-1/2 acres in 1984 has since morphed into a 33,000 acre operation, with 150 growers farming between 5 to 680 acres a piece.
The lunch I attended included mixed radicchio, mizuna, frisee, and arugula; curried garbanzos; carrot and apple slaw; roasted beets; fennel, radish, and apple salad; French lentils with feta; wild rice with shiitakes; and more. After heaping my plate with colorful vegetables, I had no room left for the sandwiches or tarts. I did make room, however, for the strawberries with dulce de leche and the mini chocolate chip macaroons.
And the frozen yogurt.
And the chocolate espresso cookies.
I also saw the biggest iced tea pitcher I've ever seen in my life.
If distance or geography makes a visit to Earthbound Farm's little stand or market impractical for you (the spot I visited isn't where they grow most of their food), I suggest you seek out a copy of Myra Goodman's 2006 cookbook, Food to Live By (Workman Publishing). For some extremely odd reason, Amazon.com is currently selling the $21.95 book for $5.99.
I've already got my eye on the sweet corn chowder on page 29. It should just be a few more weeks before the guy at my farmers' market starts bellowing: "Fresh Brentwood corn! Sweeter than my mother-in-law!"