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Monday, December 13, 2004

The man who turns me on..


...to beans that is. Who else but the Rancho Gordo himself?

No --oh gawd no-- this is not going to be that kind of story. You'll have to earn a secret pass to my girlfriends-only blog to hear that kind of story.

This one --almost equally tantalizing if you think about it, really-- is all about beans. I grew up in Asia, where beans are mostly eaten in desserts: sweet bean paste, sweet bean soups, even bean ice cream (yes, really). So, beans in a savory form have always been slightly odd to me, particularly those refried beans with the texture of cement paste that are all too common in mediocre Mexican joints. I'll eat an odd bean or two, when they came in things I love such as Cassoulet. But they have never been something that I relished, or that I could eat bowls after bowls of.

Blackcalypso_1Well, all of that changed when I met Mr.Rancho Gordo. His beans are just so darn pretty, and he talks about them so enthusiastically, that I had to give in and try them --well, that, and the bodily harm he kept threatening to inflict on my person if I didn't finish my beans...

ChristmaslimaHe grows heirloom beans, all with fun and fanciful names such as Scarlet Runner, Ojo de Tigre (Eye of the Tiger), Good Mother Stallard, and --my favorite name ever-- Appalooza. Doesn't it make you want to break into a little latin dance move just saying the name, Appalooza? Now, now, I said just a little move, that's enough, cut it out.

Madeirabeans_1As a Rancho Gordo fan, I am in esteemed company of such epitome of gastronomy as The French Laundry and many other top-end restaurants in the Bay Area, who all proudly feature these delectable beans on the menu.

Mystashofbeans_1My favorite, as always, is the french Flageolet beans. I recently roasted a gorgeous --ahem, if I may say so myself-- gigot d'agneau or leg of lamb and served his flageolets alongside. Just delicious. This week at the Ferry Plaza farmers market he sent me home with a little bag of Good Mother Stallard to add to my personal stash. I've never tried these before, and the instructions, as with all his beans, seem simple enough. I'm going to try them soon I think.

chilliesHe doesn't just sell beans by the way, but also chile peppers, as well as masa and even fresh and fried tortillas. His stand is a regular and colorful feature at the Ferry Plaza farmers market on Saturday morning, and also at the Marin farmers market (San Rafael Civic Center) on Sunday morning.

Oh, and no, don't even think about it, I'm still not going to eat beetroots. No, nope, never again. If Alain Passard, the Veggie Wizard himself, could not make a beet dish that I could eat, no one could. Just give it up people, it ain't going to happen.


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