09 May 2018

Shop Napa Farmers Market for Mother’s Day Brunch

by Greg Cole

Napa Valley Register

Hello, people with mothers! Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday, May 13. In five days. Five. If you are reading this column and have absolutely no idea what you will do for the mother in your life, you are in luck.

Follow my step-by-step guide and you will be the apple of your mom’s eye. The Napa Farmers Market is a one-stop shopping bonanza if you are looking to celebrate Mom. On Saturday you can shop for nearly everything you will need for Sunday. I have included a favorite brunch recipe, James Beard’s French toast, that will be a big part of your success.

Before I get to your plan, let me share what my family used to do for my mother, Mary. Every Mother’s Day for as long as I can remember, we would hop in the car and Dad would drive us 30 miles north from Thousand Oaks to Oxnard to the Wagon Wheel Restaurant.

 I’m fairly certain that my younger sister and I bickered most of the way there and back. I don’t think there was anything special about the Wagon Wheel. Mother’s Day was the only day of the year we went there. Judging from the neon sign, it was not a fine-dining extravaganza.

Perhaps we thought my mother loved it. She probably would rather have been hiking with other moms. Although my mom has been gone for several years, I think about our tradition every year when Mother’s Day rolls around.

On to your farmers market itinerary.

First stop: Sherri Gallagher Designs for a handcrafted, beautiful (and unbelievably affordable) sterling-silver and semi-precious gemstone bracelet or necklace. My wife wears one of Sherri’s necklaces every day. I wish I could say my kids and I got it for her for Mother’s Day. If a calamity occurs and you don’t make it past this step, you will be okay.

Next, shop for amazing long stem white or pale pink roses (Neve Roses II), fresh strawberries (Rodriguez Farms and Kenwood Strawberry Patch), pastured eggs (Farmer Joy or Hurley Farms), a loaf of bread (Upper Crust Bakery), ground or whole-bean coffee (Ohm Coffee Roasters), alderwood-smoked bacon (Contimo Provisions) and oranges (J&J Ramos Farms). Be sure to bring your own reusable shopping bags.

On Sunday morning: Hull and slice the strawberries and squeeze the oranges for juice and refrigerate. (These two steps can be done on Saturday night.) Set the table with roses at the center and the jewelry gift at Mom’s place. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Brew the coffee.

Put the bacon in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake about 20 minutes, depending on thickness and how done you like it. Drain on paper towels. Lower the oven heat to 225 degrees F and keep the bacon warm in the oven. Make the French toast. Warm some maple syrup if you want it. Pour the juice and coffee. Serve the French toast with butter and sliced strawberries on top and bacon alongside. Just remember that if small children are “helping,” preparation may take longer than you think.

Napa Farmers Market Chef Cooking Demo: Chef Sarah Scott will demonstrate fava bean hummus and carrot hummus at the farmers market on Saturday, May 12, at 10 a.m. Recipes and tastes will be provided.

Music at the Market: Vocalist Lori Paladino of the People of the Earth Band will perform at the market on Saturday, May 12. Most people know Lori for her fabulous photography. Come hear this side of her.

James Beard’s French Toast

This recipe is adapted from “The Breakfast Book” by Marion Cunningham. James Beard gave Cunningham the recipe.

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups cornflakes, slightly crumbled

8 slices dense white bread

4 tablespoons butter

8 tablespoons sugar (omit if serving with maple syrup)

In a large, shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, nutmeg and salt. Spread the cornflakes on a sheet of wax paper.

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Dip (don’t soak) both sides of the bread in the egg batter. Press both sides into the cornflakes to coat well.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Fry the bread in batches until golden on both sides, adding more butter as needed. As each slice is done, sprinkle it with 1 tablespoon sugar and transfer it to the warm oven. Serve hot.

Serves 4.

Greg Cole is the former chef/owner of Cole’s Chop House and Celadon restaurants. He is on the board of the Napa Farmers Market.

The Napa Farmers Market takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the parking lot of the South Napa Century Center, 195 Gasser Drive, Napa. The market also participates in the Market Match program, doubling the value of CalFresh benefits purchasing power for all eligible food products. For more information or a schedule of upcoming events, visit www.napafarmersmarket.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.