Indian summer has arrived along with the last month of the Napa Farmers Market. Early mornings are cool and dark now. For a farmers market vendor, this means scarves and vests during set-up time. The moon is often still visible as we get our stalls together. Recently, we have been fortunate to see a big, beautiful harvest moon. It was breathtaking.
As fall progresses, you might notice that some of your favorite farmers are no longer at the market. Farmers like Michelle Bera of Bera Ranch, producers of juicy stone fruit, have finished for the season.
While we say good-bye to cherries and peaches, we make way for such delights as figs, pumpkins and sweet corn. I also understand that persimmons are on the way. Can you say ‘persimmon cookies’?
Devoto Orchards has the crunchy, just-picked apples you have been waiting for. I love the Hawaiian variety, but it won’t be around much longer. You can still get pears from Arceo Ranch, but only for a little while longer, so you better hurry. I like to visit our flower vendors, Devoto and Neve Roses, for a pretty bouquet to put at my jewelry booth.
At this time of year, the farmers market makes room for more artisans. You might notice that there are a few more of us crafty folks filling up spaces vacated by farmers. While many farms are winding down for the year, the artisans are gearing up. Many of us have already booked holiday shows and are getting ready with shiny new items.
For me, this is the time to go into high gear and prepare for the holiday season. It may seem too early to think about it, but we artisans have to start stocking up. And as a shopper, you benefit. You will find an abundant selection now that you won’t find at any other time.
Stop by Napa Valley Leathercraft’s booth and you will see expertly made leather belts for men and women. The Paris Apartment has wonderful handmade candles and perfumes.
Of course, there is a great selection of handmade jewelry at the market. Robert Redus Art, Nancy Necklace, Pearls by Roxanne, Sonia Lub, Sharon Hedlund and Sherri Gallagher Beadwork each create unique jewelry items.
Our photographers, Jessica Rogers and In The Moment Creative, bring you bags, cards and pictures.
We have pottery by Atlas Peak Pottery, Amanda Wright, Pope Valley Pottery and Flower Farm Pottery. Flower Farm Pottery even has an area where kids can paint a project and bring it home. Plus, this vendor has cute pumpkins this time of year.
For body care, check out Napa Valley au Naturel for scrubs and aromatherapy sprays and My Two Scents for soaps and lotions.
Susan Kennedy brings us unique vintage-inspired gifts, and for crocheted blankets and baby items, check out Rose Gardener.
Guapo Gourds has wonderful wood-burned and painted gourds that would be perfect for your holiday table. Leather bags and wallets are brought to you by Milosc Designs and 2NFrom. You can even find clothing from Susan Eastman at the market.
Artisans at the Napa Farmers Market are required to handcraft every item they sell. We don’t allow any reselling. This is true as well for the market’s farmers, who grow the produce they sell, and the specialty food bakers and chefs. Each vendor brings his or her unique talent to the market, whether it is using a needle and thread, a shovel or a rolling pin.
You have until the end of October to visit the Napa Farmers Market for all of your food needs. You might just find the perfect holiday gifts as well.
Ready to give back to your community? Don’t miss the final day of the market — Saturday, Oct. 29 — when the 2016 Napa Valley Give!Guide debuts. Representatives from several Napa Valley nonprofits will be present to share what they do and request your support. In this season of giving, come show your appreciation for the important work of our local nonprofits. Pick up a Give!Guide Passport when you arrive. Each nonprofit table you visit will stamp your passport. Completed passports will be entered in a drawing for Napa Farmers Market merchandise, and the nonprofit with the most visits will receive a $100 donation.
Bruschetta with Sweet Peppers and Ricotta
You’ll find a bounty of sweet peppers in gorgeous colors at the Napa Farmers Market. This recipe is from Fresh from the Farmers Market by Janet Fletcher.
1 large red bell pepper
1 large golden bell pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 slices pain au levain or Italian bread each about 1/2-inch thick and 4 inches long
1/4 pound whole-milk ricotta cheese
6 to 8 leaves fresh basil, torn into small pieces
Roast the peppers over a gas flame or charcoal fire, or under a broiler, until blackened on all sides. Transfer to a plastic bag and close the bag so peppers steam as they cool. When cool enough to handle, peel the peppers, halve them and remove the core, white ribs and seeds. Cut the peppers lengthwise into strips ½- to ¾-inch wide.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over moderate heat. Add the garlic and saute until lightly colored. Add the peppers, season with salt and pepper and saute just until the peppers are hot throughout. Let cool in the pan. For the best flavor, saute the peppers 1 hour ahead so they can absorb the oil and exude their own juices.
Toast the bread on both sides in a broiler, toaster oven, on a stovetop grill or—the best choice—over a charcoal fire. Remove from the heat and drizzle one side of each slice with 1 teaspoon oil. Season the ricotta with salt and pepper, then spread an even layer of cheese on each of the six toasts. Stir the basil into the peppers, then divide the peppers and their juices among the six toasts.
Sherri Gallagher is on the board of the Napa Farmers Market. She is also an artisan who is lucky enough to sell her handcrafted jewelry at the market.