from the farm: radishes

We respect all the seasons of the farm’s “life” and cycle. As you know if you follow us here, we truly acknowledge how important the winter rest and regeneration is for the soil and there is a distinctive joy we experience during fall harvest when the light is beginning to change and we realize we must especially savor what we pick as the plants yield their “last hurrah” for a few months. But spring and summer might be our favorite time at the farm—days are longer, sunlight bathes the beds early in the day and far past afternoon into early evening and we know we are looking forward to those “first” bites of a new crop as well as the luxury of multiple pounds of freshly grown produce.

So today, as well as many of our next posts, we will celebrate what we are growing at the farm and what the chefs are making for you at the restaurant. Farm to table—it may seem like an overused term these days, but at it does describe what we do in its simplest and purest way. And that is what we are about.

If you frequent the girl & the fig, you know there are several signature things on our menu that we never change. That burger and a grilled cheese sandwich to die for, and of course, the duck confit. We know you don’t want us to ever consider taking those off the menu—and we promise, even as we want to make room for our chefs to be creative, those will always be there. As will the heirloom radish starter.

Mixed seasonal radishes, anchovy butter and grey sea salt. Simple. Perfect. Always at the top of the starter menu. And, actually always a great way to start a meal.

As Sondra explains on page 51 of Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig’s Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country: “Most people only know radishes as the white-and-red garnish on salads, but radishes have become more widely available bringing an array of texture and color to the plate. Radishes are members of the mustard family and have mild, sweet, slightly bitter or peppery flavors depending on the variety. They come in all shapes and sizes from red and white to even black.”

black radish

The most common variety is the Cherry Belle variety, a round bright red radish with a white interior and a mild, slightly sweet flavor. The Watermelon variety has a vivid purple-pink interior, while the long, tubular French Breakfast radish has a pale red exterior and white interior with a mild, slightly sweet flavor. Two others that Sondra highlights in the cookbook are the Sparkler Tip, which is a round bright red radish with white tips and a mild flavor and the White Icicle, which is a long, thin radish with a milky white color and a rich spicy flavor (don’t assume pale outside means mild taste!). So many colors and varieties of radishes mean that our choice for “seasonal” radishes in our popular starter may vary. You will only know what we are growing (and serving), if you come in to “the fig” for a taste. But I will share that you will be enjoying China Rose, Early Scarlet Globe, French Breakfast (do the French really eat radishes for breakfast?), Giant of Sicily and Pink Beauty radishes which are growing now at our farm at Imagery Estate Winery.

Radishes growing at the farm

Radishes growing at the farm

And you too can experiment and vary what you do with this versatile vegetable. Our friend Michele Anna Jordan recently shared some particularly creative and delicious ways to enjoy a radish.

photo by Steven Krause

photo by Steven Krause

Radishes have been around a long time—with evidence of them originating in China and being cultivated by the ancient Greeks. Give a new variety a try and let us know what you think!

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