A note to our readers, friends and guests: Our long-time friend and local farmer Patrick Hoover, on whom the following blog post focuses, passed away suddenly in early October this year. This blog post was originally written in May of 2016, and we wanted to bring it to your attention again as a tribute to a wonderful man who left us to soon. We were lucky to have known Patrick and to have been able to enjoy the delicious fruits of his labor for so many years. Patrick’s family will continue to run the farm, Patrick’s Garden in the Placerville area, and will carry on his legacy at the local farmers markets. Patrick, you will be missed!
Berries of all kinds are the essence of summer sweetness, and at The Kitchen we use a wide variety of the very best that the Farm to Fork Capital has to offer. The berries we bring into the restaurant are all sourced regionally from the local farmers markets, and in particular we are fond of Patrick Hoover of Patrick’s Garden, located in the Placerville foothills area.
The Kitchen’s Chef-Owner Randall Selland began a relationship with Patrick more than 20 years ago, when Hoover took over the reins at a farm specializing in heirloom tomatoes, where Chef Selland had already been a patron. Patrick expanded the operation and began to grow berries and other crops in addition to the tomatoes. He now grows a veritable summer hit parade of berries – golden, black, and red raspberries, tayberries, olallieberries, loganberries, blueberries and more – along with the original heirloom tomatoes, squash, apples, and carrots, to name a few.
The Kitchen’s Executive Chef Kelly McCown stresses the fact that buying and using local berries, when they are picked at the peak of ripeness and at ultimate sugar content levels, makes all the difference in the world when it comes to flavor. These local berries are not grown or picked to be shipped or stored even for a short time. They must be used within a day or two or they will just simply fall apart from the high sugar content. It’s worth it, however, to search out these perfectly sweet berries either at the farmers market or by patronizing restaurants that bring them in, because the flavor experience is simply so superior.
Although we source our berries from some other local growers as well, we tend to rely heavily on Patrick Hoover and his farm because of our longstanding relationship with him, his reliability and consistency of product, the large variety of berries he grows, and the fact that he often picks specifically with us in mind and sends us the best berries at their optimal moment of flavor and seasonality. We also like the fact that because Patrick’s Garden is in the foothills, they are able to grow a more flavorful berry overall due to the effect of cool nights and warm days – this greater variance in temperature “stresses” the crop and actually produces a better berry – firm and flavorful, with less water content. You can see a similar effect in the hillside and mountain-grown grapes used in many of the best wines.
Throughout the summer months, we will be bringing in Patrick’s fresh-picked berries to share with you on our dessert courses. You can also find his and other local growers’ berries at the Sunday Sacramento Central Farmers Market under the freeway at 5th and X, at the Wednesday Cesar Chavez farmers market in Downtown Sacramento, and at other local farmers markets around town. Whatever you do, be sure to taste the difference that local and freshly picked makes when it comes to berries, and enjoy the sweet tastes of summer.