NEVADA AND PLACER COUNTIES are home to a growing, healthy and vibrant base of local farms, rivaling the Central Valley, Sonoma and San Luis Obispo.
From fruits and vegetables (Riverhill Farm and Machado Orchards, for example) to grass-fed beef (Nevada County Free Range Beef and Sinclair Family Farm) — from olive oil, jams and honey (Miller Honey Farms) to fresh-cut flowers (Sweet Roots Farm) — the region offers a complete local harvest.
The BriarPatch Food Co-op in Grass Valley is a showcase for fresh, local products. It carries more than 700 local and regional products from more than 100 suppliers. It also has an excellent deli, with foods made from scratch, as well as informative cooking classes.
On the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Central Market specializes in year-round fresh, organic food delivered from Central Valley farms. Its motto: “Farm to you, overnight.”
Besides a diverse local bounty, our region offers unique products, such as Placer-grown Mountain Mandarin, celebrated at the Mountain Mandarin Festival and Orchard Days. Mandarin marinades, fruit spreads and dressings are sold year-round (Newcastle Produce and Snow's Citrus).
The region also offers year-round farmers markets (the Foothill Farmers Market in Auburn and Nevada City Farmers Market), and seasonal ones that last until Thanksgiving (The Market at Grass Valley).
The area's expertise in farm-to-table cuisine is documented in two cookbooks — Placer County Real Food Cookbook and The Art of Real Food — by Foothill Farmers Market founder Joanne Neft and chef Laura Kenny.
Many restaurants specialize in fresh, local cuisine. They include New Moon Cafe, Ike's Quarter Cafe and Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co. in Nevada City; Carpe Vino in Auburn; and Summer Thyme's Deli & Bakery in Grass Valley.
Caterers specializing in fresh, local fare include Emily's Catering in Grass Valley.
The area also is home to artisan foods. Some examples include:
OLIVE OIL AND VINEGAR AT OLIVE GROOVE Customers can sample over 70 different flavors of the freshest extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around the world. The store also carries loose-leaf teas, gourmet foods, maple syrups, spices and sea salts. 126 Mill St., Grass Valley. GrooveToTheOlive.com
ARTISAN CHEESES AT WHEYWARD GIRL CREAMERY Full-service cheese shop carries cow, sheep and goat's milk cheeses, both domestic and imported. Special- izes in small artisan cheese makers. Owner Barbara Jenness is an award- winning, master cheesemaker, who also teaches cheese-making classes. 209 Commercial St., Nevada City. WheywardGirlCreamery.com
COFFEE AT CAROLINES COFFEE ROASTERS A wide assortment of coffee from around the world, including organic, fair-trade, decaf and more. We enjoy Caroline's coffee each morning. The store also sells teas, hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and salads. 128 S. Auburn St., Grass Valley. CarolinesCoffee.com
Foothill Flowers Foothill Flowers, owned and operated by the Johnson family since 1966, has a beautiful selection of spring flowers that are hand selected at the San Francisco Flower Mart.
The seasonal selection includes iris, lilies, hyacinth, tulips, freesia, lilac, peonies and many other seasonal flowers. For a tropical flair, weekly shipments from Hawaii include orchids, anthurium, heliconia and assorted foliages.
Seasonal blooming plants include hydrangea, azalea, lily and orchid. The design staff has a combined 75 years of experience, and they continue to create new designs and styles.
Foothill Flowers features wines from Dave the Wine Merchant. Dave offers an eclectic collection of fine wines from around the world. 102 W. Main St., Grass Valley, 530-273-2296. FoothillFlowers.com