Investigating The Mariquita Mystery

mar_tamara_pix.jpgBased near Watsonville, Mariquita Farm supplies organic vegetables and herbs to acclaimed Bay Area restaurants. Its partial client list includes A16 (2355 Chestnut), Absinthe (398 Hayes), Boulevard (1 Mission), Chez Panisse (1517 Shattuck, Berkeley), Coi (373 Broadway), Delfina (3621 18th St.), Incanto (1550 Church), Kokkari Estiatorio (200 Jackson) and Zuni Cafe (1658 Market).

For the past couple of years, Mariquita has hosted Mysterious Thursdays in San Francisco every other week for those who can't afford or commit to its regular weekly CSA deliveries (or eat at that caliber of restaurant all the time). $25 cash buys a wild card box of beautiful produce, along with suggestions and recipes on what do do with it all (and when to do it). Last week's box, for example, consisted of Austrian crescent potatoes, cauliflower, baby carrots, lettuces, parsnips, watermelon radishes, white carrots, Castelfranco radicchio, sorrel, radishes (purple or French breakfast), mizuna, Swiss chard, cutting celery and rapini.

All you have to do to reserve one is check the schedule on the site and email to ask about availability for a given week. Pickup locations vary, but are always at a relatively easy to park restaurant with whom they work in San Francisco. After looking at the farm's Web site a few times over the past and noting with minor frustration that Mysterious Thursdays often sell out quickly, I lucked out a few days ago and was able to reserve what was perhaps the last spot for today.

It should be exciting not only to eat locally-grown food but to experiment with some of the same tools of the trade as the professionals have for a home game of Iron Chef. I'm going to pick up the box at the end of the day, and will report back the solution to this mystery (as well as the evidence) this evening.  -- Tamara Palmer

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