With the Felton and Scotts Valley farmers markets both happening every week into the fall, the summer fruit season is officially in swing. We thought it’d be a good time to check-in with Santa Cruz Community Farmers Markets director Nesh Dhillon, who oversees those two markets, and three others in the county—downtown, Live Oak and on the Westside.
GT: What’s your favorite fruit?
NESH DHILLON: Avocado. A sweet fruit—I would say a Blenheim apricot. They’re coming right around the corner. There’s something very magical about that apricot. It’s very specific to this region, and it’s also a very fragile fruit. It depends on the weather. It depends on how the spring lines up, how the trees go through the maturation process. If they’re starting to fruit, it’s a real sensitive period. The crop can get ruined—cherries and apricots. Cherries are even more sensitive, because if they get late rains on cherries, they’ll blow up and crack.
Do you only eat what’s in season?
I feel really weird eating something in the off-season. I don’t have any excuse. If I’m eating something that’s not in season, I’m like “I shouldn’t be eating this right now. This is ridiculous.” But I’m not going to be rude at the table! I’m not that dogmatic about it.
What do you put in your salad?
Our salads are simple. I like to put—my wife really does all the cooking—sprouts from New Native Farms. You can embellish a salad: buckwheat, arugla sprouts, microgreens, pea shoots. It’s amazing what a salad can become with just a little bit of shoots and sprouts, light dressing. We don’t really doctor up salads too much, because the lettuces around here are so good, so flavorful. And it’s a delicate flavor, so you have to be careful about what you team it up with. Having a little radicchio within a medley of greens, it’s all you need. A little cheese is nice, too.