Fresh food teams in the Sierra Foothills

“FROM OUR COUNTY TO YOUR TABLE” is the theme of the California State Fair in July. It is well suited to our region, where chefs specialize in using fresh, local ingredients, including fruits and veggies, meats and poultry, and grains.

Examples include Ike’s Quarter Cafe in Nevada City; Newcastle Produce; Summer Thyme’s Bakery & Deli and Diegos in Grass Valley; Carpe Vino in Auburn; Stella restaurant in Truckee and Tahoe Central Market & Deli to name a few.

Summer Thyme’s, which just expanded in Grass Valley, gets its produce from three local farms: Riverhill Farm, Boxcar Farm and Woolman Farm. It also plans its own rooftop garden to grow fresh herbs.

The restaurant is creating innovative dishes from the seasonal ingredients. One example: This spring Riverhill is growing fresh Napa cabbage, among other veggies, at its farm outside Nevada City. It is a delicate, crisp and mildly flavored cabbage used in East Asian cuisine.

As a result, Summer Thyme’s has created a gluten-free and paleo-friendly dish: slow-braised, shredded Asian pork wrapped in the Napa cabbage, with a sesame dipping sauce. “It’s perfect for spring and fresh tasting,” says Owner-Chef Amy Cooke.

This summer, Summer Thyme’s will incorporate fresh red peppers from Riverhill into a sweet pepper relish to go with braised baby back ribs. The restaurant also will incorporate Riverhill’s veggies into some vegetarian dishes.

Like Summer Thyme’s, Ike’s specialized in fresh, local ingredients for its Cajun-style fare. Ike’s lists its farmers on a chalkboard for its patrons, including First Rain Farm and Super Tuber Farm in Nevada City, Dinner Bell Farm in Grass Valley and Pyramid Farms in Chico.

The fresh local ingredients extend to other prod- ucts too. Both Ike’s and Summer Thyme’s make bread and muffins from scratch using Grass Valley Grains. The locally grown cornmeal is Ike’s favorite. It can be bought online at

(Photo: John Burnett)

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