Artichokes from Suncoast Farms for a composed salad, cherries and stone fruit from Scott’s Farm, summer berries and preserves from Lori Heal at Two Peas in a Pod for peanut butter and jelly toast, Oro blanco grapefruit from Garcia Organic Farms and arugula from Tamai Family Farms – that’s just part of Chef Jason Prendergast’s haul on one morning at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.
Within a five-minute walk from FIG restaurant inside the historic Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows, celebrating its centennial this year, the chef allowed us to tag along on his Wednesday morning shop. With that celebration comes an updated menu, using almost 75 percent of farmers market produce in his kitchen, including secret ingredients like discarded produce used for rich stocks, sauces and salads.
“Always talk to the farmers at the market,” Prendergast tells L.A. Weekly in the FIG kitchen while assembling an arugula salad with crispy artichokes. “They know what they have and what’s best on their table.”
It also doesn’t hurt that on his weekly jaunts to the market, the chef doesn’t come empty-handed. He brings warm breakfast burritos to all his vendors, which makes him a farmer favorite, securing a good spot in line and a guarantee to the week’s best pickings.
“I stay in touch with them all week,” says Prendergast. “They’re not just our farmers, they’re our friends. I’m in constant contact with Alex Weiser to see what’s new and just ready to come out of the ground. The menu here evolves every two to three weeks and I always like using ingredients that have a story.”
And speaking of stories, the Miramar has many.
Situated on five acres on the Santa Monica bluffs overlooking the pier, the Fairmont Miramar sits on what was originally the private estate of the founder of Santa Monica, Senator John P. Jones. Dating back to 1921, it was named “Miramar,” translating to “view of the sea” in Spanish. The restaurant is named after the iconic 80 ft. high Moreton Bay Fig Tree, planted in the mansion’s garden by Jones’ wife, Georgina, and her gardener in the 1880s, which still stands in the courtyard. It’s the only beachside hotel with bungalows and has served celebrities and politicians, including The Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, and Presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, as well as former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
As part of the year-long celebration, there will be a Hogs, Hops & Pops poolside beer and barbeque celebration on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 20 from 5:00pm – 8:00pm filled with hops from the Santa Monica Brewery, BBQ offerings (two free-range heritage bred hogs) from Pachamama Farms prepared by Prendergast and guest Chef Patricio Wise of Nixtaco Mexican Restaurant, and assorted lawn games poolside.
Watch Prendergast prepare his Tamai’s Arugula Salad with shaved and crispy artichokes, ricotta pecorina and tahini dressing in the video (recipe below) and other tips on how to get the best out of the market.
MIS EN PLACE
- Washed and spun baby arugula
- Baby artichokes, shaved and fried at 300 degrees
- Large artichokes, spun and held in water with 3 bunches parsley, 2 ea lemons halved and squeezed in an 8 qt container … shaved PAPER THIN
- Ricotta Pecorina cheese, microplaned
- Braised artichoke stems, small diced, mixed with Meyer lemon zest, juice, olive oil and thinly shaved shallots
- Tahini dressing
- Lemon olive oil
- 2 ea jars tahini paste
- 3 cups hot water
- 8 ea lemons zested and juice
- 3 ea Calabrian chiles
- 3.5 oz. Calabrian chile oil
- 1 T. gray sea salt
- Place hot water in a blender with tahini paste, blend on high until smooth
- Add in remaining ingredients and again blend until smooth
Braised Artichoke Stems
- Artichoke stems, peeled and trimmed of any discoloration
- 2 ea onions, julienned
- 2 ea carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
- 2 ea celery stalks, sliced thinly
- 8 ea garlic cloves, smashed
- 4 ea shallots, sliced thinly
- 4 ea lemons, sliced thinly
- 1 T. gray sea salt
- 2 ea bay leaves
- 1 bu thyme
- 1 qt white wine
- 8 qt Water
- In a large pot over medium heat, add oil, onions, garlic and shallots, sweat until fragrant
- Add carrots and celery, sweat until tender
- Add salt, lemon and white wine, reduce wine by half
- Add water and artichoke stems, bring to boil for 4 minutes and remove immediately from the heat, leaving artichokes to slowly poach in the liquid. Allow to cool to room temperature. Keep artichoke stems submerged in their poaching liquid at all times until ready for use.
If this seems a little overwhelming, it’s on the dinner menu at FIG.