Yesterday while in Santa Cruz, I stopped at the Westside farmer’s market. I wanted to pick up some ardi gasna (ewe cheese) from Rebecca King’s Monkeyflower Ranch, which is in Royal Oaks, bordering Elkhorn. I also wanted to try out the Apple-a-Day sauerkraut from Farmhouse Culture.
The market was jumpin,’ despite the fact that the weather was cool and overcast. The musicians were playing, and vendors were giving out free samples of homegrown food, so I was in heaven. I’d been following Ms. King’s chronicle of setting up her sheep dairy on the Ardi Gasna blog, and was now curious to sample its products.
Lovely Rebecca King somehow looks exactly like the perfect person to manage a sheep dairy: knowledgeable, healthy, and enthusiastic about her “Garden Variety Cheese” products. I picked up a wedge each of Moonflower and Black-eyed Susan.
At the Farmhouse Culture stand, I learned that the Apple-a-Day kraut was sold out, which was not surprising. But they were giving a good deal on their “Summer Love Sauerkraut.” I was a little hesitant about the ingredients. Besides cabbage, it contained zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, tarragon, sonoma sea salt, and — lavender. Lavender? With cabbage?
Well, I tried a taste, and found the lavender to be very subtle — just an echo, but a pleasant one. And on the whole the kraut was mild, fresh, and lemony. I also like the fact that their kraut is pro-biotic, containing beneficial bacteria that promotes digestion. I had just recovered from a bout of food poisoning a couple days before this tasting, and had no problem at all digesting the Farmhouse Culture sauerkraut.
Later, I prepared a plate with some homemade wholewheat soda bread, the Summer Love kraut, and the two ardi gasna cheeses, which were both aged at 4 months. The Moonflower was buttery-smooth and nutty. The Black-eyed Susan has a tangy, rich flavor, a little fruity. I’m hooked. To find out where to purchase Garden Variety Cheese, check out Rebecca’s Market Update.