If you're used to the boxes of blindingly white eggs that you get grocery stores–a dozen at a time in production-line rows, sometimes stamped, often tasteless–fresh eggs can be revelatory. Farmer Peter Schaner's eggs, which he sells at farmers markets, are definitely so, in taste and size and color. Schaner sells a lot more than chicken eggs too. The little ones in the front are Ringneck pheasant eggs, khaki-colored and with shells so thick that Schaner said I could carry them home in my pocket. The pretty multi-colored larger eggs in the front are chicken eggs from Rhode Island reds and Araucana chickens, a Chilean Indian breed. The smaller dappled ones in back are Guinea hen eggs; the pale mid-sized eggs to the right of them are from Blue Swedish ducks. And the gorgeous speckled eggs on the left in the back are Bourbon Red turkey eggs, a breed which comes from–you guessed it–Bourbon County, Kentucky.
Schaner says he just got about 30 Pharaoh quail, so soon he'll be bringing quail eggs too. He also has emu eggs. Yup, emu. Schaner's emus lay their eggs in November and December, so look for the giant eggs around Thanksgiving time. “You have to drill a hole in them,” said Peter's wife Kayne Schaner of the hard-shelled emu eggs this morning at the Santa Monica farmers market. “I guess you can do it with a hammer. But then you won't have the eggs.”
“One [emu egg] is equivalent to about 75 quail eggs,” said Schaner as he was pulling boxes from the back of his truck for Corina Weibel, chef-owner of Atwater Village's Canele. Weibel buys duck, turkey, chicken and pheasant eggs from Schaner. The duck eggs go onto a brunch duck hash; pheasant eggs are hard-boiled and added to the Niçoise salad. Schaner sells eggs to Palate Food + Wine in Glendale too. “Palate gets them,” called Schaner from inside the depths of his truck. “They get anything and everything.”
Schaner Family Farms: Valley Center, California; Wednesday Santa Monica farmers market.