Monday, July 30, 2012


All sizes coming from east coast Canada farms.
West coast Canada: only producing small size fish, 6/8 thru 12/14, with a few 14/16 in the market.
Price stable.
Alaska closed.
California Kings;
Price went up, not much fish but is still available.
Plenty of fish available.
Rock cod/ snapper fillet.
Dover fillet
Petrale fillet
Price stable.
Sword: is stable, full moon again in two weeks.
Price stable.
Mahi: Tight in market, fish is available, high priced.
Price up.
White Seabass: available from  southern California is in season, Mexico will be in season soon.
Price stable.
Alaskan Halibut is in full swing until October.
Price stable.
Scallops: closed areas 1 & 2 opened now for fishing, producing plenty U10 scallops. Bringing the price down to the lowest price so far this year
Live Lobsters: full swing, hard shells shipped to California only. Soft Shell live available but not good for air shipping.
Price Stable.
PEI Mussels: full summer swing, so far no sign of spawning.
Price Stable.
BBQ Oysters: (medium is very short, plenty of small size.
Clams/Small Oysters: are stable.
Price stable.

Fresh From The Farm Produce Market Update

July 25th, 2012

Demand exceeds supply and there does not appear to be any open fields to buy. Prices will stay strong at least through next week because demand is strong. Heads are fairly firm to firm and overall the quality is good but field inspectors are seeing some occasional weak tip, very occasional mildew stain and a supplier who was experiencing chemical over spray, see photo below (this product was not packed). Our field inspectors are seeing some light weights because the packers are harvesting the fields a little early.

With the rain and extreme heat in the East and Canada, many distributors are going west to get romaine; which is causing inventory to get a little tight and increasing the markets. However, they are not as short on supply as they were last week. Romaine cross valley farms is weighting in at 36-38 pounds with several suppliers making the grade to pack our label. There is a wide range in quality and most of the lower price quotes are sub-par to say the least. Green Leaf is sluggish and Red Leaf and Boston are active. Green leaf is weighing in at 22-25 pounds. 

Many shippers still have storage crop from last year and want to move that out before the new crop comes in. They are anticipating new crops from some suppliers first of August and others the middle of the month.  The new crop looks to be average in tearms of the sizing of the potatoes and potential above average yields. Expect to see an increase in prices until the new crop is in and the markets adjust to the supplies. All the major shipping regions have new crop red potatoes available and the red market remains steady. There is a slight shortage on size A, leading to higher prices. There is a surplus of size B potatoes leading to cheaper prices. We are expective the supplies on both to balance out in the next week.  New crop white potatoes are available from several shipping regions with very stable pricing and good quality. New crop yellow potatoes will be available this week out of the Midwest.  Specialty potatoes are available out of California and Wisconsin is not far behind.  

Yellow onion prices continue to increase because of lack of product mainly from New Mexico. This is from several factor but mainly farmers are planting less so they can make more money on the crop. This year they also had issues with the extreme heat and some bad storms during the harvest which led to smaller yields, smaller size and the loss of acreage. California is having an average year but with the lack of product from New Mexico the market is tight and California just doesn’t have enough product to make up for it. Price increases are common this time of the year. Colorado is beginning this week and is produce is starting off with larger sizes. We can expect to see the market weaken in 2-3 weeks once product from Washington and Oregon are on the market. Prices of white onions are also climbing due to a shortage of quality supplies.  Jumbo whites are becoming especially tight.  Red onion prices have firmed up slightly as well. The sweet onion season out of Calif. is still going strong.  There is plenty of availability on all sizes, and the crop is still looking great!

Eastern Markets: Virginia is winding down on the first harvest and there will be a gap in supplies before the second harvest is ready which will be the middle of September. With the gap in supplies we are expecting to see price increases. North Carolina and Tennessee are harvesting product and the quality is good. Roma tomatoes continue to be limit in the east, with the main supplies coming from a few local growers and Ohio. The supplies are not expected to improve until Florida begins to harvest again in the fall.

Western Markets: California is having a lighter harvest then desired. This is the result of rains that occurred between plantings which is causing a gap in supplies and the extreme heat that occurred a few weeks ago. When tomato plants experience extreme heat there is too much stress on the plant so they “push” off their flowers so not to produce fruit. This is referred to as bloom drop. Mexico and California have good supplies on Romas and this has caused the market to drop.  California product will be abundant until end of September and BajaMexico will have good supplies until November. Mexico also has an abundance of grape and cherry tomatoes. There are already ample supplies on the market so we are seeing price decrease for Roma, Cherries, and grape tomatoes.

Vegetables & Value Added Produce
Western Markets: Supplies are steady from Baja Mexico, crossing into San DiegoCalifornia. The quality has been good to excellent, with most packs available. The only pack short in supply is large 60 count. The market is holding steady from previous highs as Michigan gets into steady production. The quality from Michigan is reported as good. 
Eastern Markets: Quality is good out of New Jersey and Michigan has been excellent.  North Carolina is reporting inconsistencies with the market remaining steady.

Western Markets: Demand continues to outpace supply leading to an active market with prices increasing. 
Eastern Markets: Market is showing some strength. Michigan and New Jersey have just begun, and limited volume is coming out of North Carolina and Tennessee. No quality issues have come up at this point.

Western Markets: The green bell pepper market is holding steady as supplies have stabilized in the San Joaquin, California growing areas. The crop is still running very large in size, with most shippers packing Jumbo and Extra-large and very few Mediums and Large. The quality is excellent. The red bell pepper market is barely steady as supplies increase in California and demand is very light. The quality is excellent.  
Eastern Markets: Michigan and North Carolina have steady supplies available. The red bell pepper market is barely steady as supplies increase in California and demand is very light. The quality is excellent.  

Western MarketsMarket is tending up for both Italian and Yellow.  Some growers are reducing production due to low markets and quality.  Weather has been an impact especially in yellow straight-neck squash.  A wide range of quality is noted and demand for yellow continues to exceed demand.
Eastern Markets: Eastern market is fairly stable moving into the fourth week of July. North Carolina and Tennessee continue to harvest. Michigan and Jersey have product  readily available as well.

The market is now active.  Larger sizing is lighter in availability and prices are climbing. Expect the market to continue to get stronger.  Light brown spotting continues to show up on arrivals across all vendors.

California carrot supplies remain good along with good sizes.  Demand is good and the market is firming. 

Salinas and Santa MariaCalifornia are the primary shipping locations for quality product, with steady supply out of both areas. The quality out of California is good, with leafy tops and very occasional bowing being the main defects present. Sizes are peaking on 30s and smaller. The demand is fairly good due to light summer plantings and extreme weather in eastern Canada and the eastern United States. Prices are slightly lower this week.  Michigan is increasing production and taking demand off of the west coast. Michigan product has ordinary to poor quality, with bowing, thin ribs, light color, and leafy tops being the main defect.

The market is steady much like last week.  Supplies are coming out of Mexico with most suppliers.  The quality continues to have a few issues of decay upon arrival with pencil sizing having the best availability.

The market on asparagus continues to be fairly good. The demand has improved compared to last week. Supplies of Mexican-grown product are available to load in Los Angeles and SalinasCalifornia. Prices are anticipated to gradually increase as supplies are slightly lower and demand increases



New Jersey is finished harvesting. Michigan is still harvesting but weather is expected to significantly decrease volumes. Oregon still has strong volumes still coming in but the season may still be shorter and lighter than originally forecasted.BLACKBERRIES

Georgia has completed their harvest and North Carolina will be done by first week of August. California is improving in overall volumes due to good weather but harvest volumes continue to be less than overall demand.  Region still in a demand exceeds supply due to limited east coast offerings.


California continues strong production in this region overall as the USDA report over 2 million more cases produced in the last 4 weeks of this year compared to last year industry wide.


Watsonville is still has strong production with nearly all harvest intended for fresh.  Price increases because there are lower supplies on the market but the demand is high. The product that is available is good quality with sweet flavor and a firm texture. 

Just like last week the market steady because the valley is going in good volume on all colors. The overall quality is excellent. Expect good supplies of fruit out of the valley through November.

Prices on pears and apples in general are increasing as storage crops are finishing up. Suppliers have Gala and Fuji for 3-4 weeks and then they will be out of product. Anjou pears are expected to run out of supplies in about a week. Some import are available but all in the largest sizes and not on a products. There was MAJOR hail damage throughout all of Washington last week and the damage of the crop is still being assessed.

There is more supplies on the market from CA, Mexico and Peru. Due to the abundance of fruit prices are decreasing. Overall quality is excellent: flavor is nutty and texture is creamy. California harvest is in peak season; Hass variety with an outstanding quality.

Market steady with good supplies of fruit especially on 88’s and larger, overall quality is fair to good with excellent juice and sugar content. Expect to see some green around the stem end and the blossom end.  We will have good supplies of fruit through October and then start navels around that time, there are also some Chilean and Australian navels around.

Market steady with good supplies of 115’s and larger, as we are peaking on the larger fruit. The overall quality is good with good color and very good juice content. Expect good supplies of fruit going forward as we are seeing some Chilean arrive and will continue to increase in volume which should help keep the market steady.

Market is steady but we are expecting it to increase in August.  Growers are still having issues recover from the rains and getting the product packed. Expect to see lighter colored limes, blanching and shading due to the conditions (higher temperatures and rain). 

The market is level and decreasing. There has been an increase of supplies with the new crop from Bakersfield and Westside being harvested.  Farmers are balancing fruit coming on earlier as result from extreme heat a few weeks ago and it being cooler the last week which has slowed the availability of product.  Sizing on cantaloupe seems to be running normal with a good mix of 9’s-15’s with a few 18’s. Honeydew production is on the lighter side with sizing running mostly 5’s and 6’s with few 8’s.

Demand is stronger than supply, consequently fobs are up this week.  We don’t see the market easing up this week and I doubt if next week will offer any changes. 

PINEAPPLES We are starting to see fewer products on the market and this trend will continue. Expect to see prices increase from this trend. Texas, east Florida and the west coast are very short or completely lack 5 ct and 6 ct fruit. This shortage is expected for the next 3 weeks. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chef's Line Hummus

Hummus is one of the most widely eaten and popular foods of the Middle East. It was introduced into the United States around 1910 when large numbers of people from Easter Europe and the middle East to emigrate.

Chef's Line Hummus from US Foods is packed in a resealable tub for easy storing and reuse, our all natural hummus is produced in small batches to deliver an authentic product.

It contains no preservatives or oil extenders - just imported tahini from Jordon and ground chickpeas and authentic spices (sea salt, garlic, cumin). For more information about Chef's Line Hummus Click Here!
Or check out this fantastic recipe from the US Foods Culinary Team; Beef and Hummus Dip.
Please contact Brian Isaeff, Territory Manager US Foods at 925-588

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What's The Biga Deal?

The Biga the Better

“Behind each and every memorable bite of proper Italian bread we’ve daintily nibbled, hungrily inhaled, or otherwise somehow consumed, we have a biga to thank. Much obliged.” Leite's Culinaria, an award winning food website

The real art of artisan breads: a fermentation starter that develops the flavor and texture and pumps up the flour.

Start at the very beginning. The use of a sour starter is a method of bread baking that goes back at least 6,000 years, since yeast had to be sustained from bread batch to bread batch. Legend has it that Columbus brought a starter with him to America, and the technique was a standard method of baking in the early days of the U.S. This is sometimes referred to in English as a 'mother' or 'sourdough' starter and in Italian as lievito di madre, madriga or pasta acida. Before beer yeast was readily available, each household made its own starter from airborne yeasts or those found in fermenting fruits such as grapes. This was kept in the fridge and ‘fed' regularly with flour and water. These starters are everlasting--some bakeries in America claim to have had their starter for over 100 years. With the advent of commercially available yeast and baking powder in the nineteenth century, the use of such starters was confined to those pioneers who moved farther and farther from settlements.

Why biga?  The availability of baker’s yeast spurred a shift away from sourdough by Italian bakers. The biga starter was created to recover the flavor which was lost and to reinforce the strength of the dough, making it ideal for products such as brioche or stolen. Made a day before the dough and left out to ferment at room temperature, biga produces a wonderful aroma, open texture, chewy crust and a slightly beery, acidic aroma inside. The risings are long and bring out the flavor of the grain, according to “Biga provides stretchy elegance and high volume to Italian breads,” says Chef Michael Kalanty of Kitchen on Fire, a Berkley-based gourmet cooking school.  In addition, breads made with biga remain fresher and longer.

What is biga?  The Bread Bakers Guild of America describes it as: “a substantial cultivation of yeasts and acids which is very firm to the touch (42-46% of water), cool (64-68 F), and made active by a dose of yeast (1%), which achieves multiplication of the yeasts, hydration and maturation of the gluten and formation of acid and aromatic substances.” Translation: a strong, active, and mature starter. 

You have to start somewhere. Since the Chefs Line™ biga formula and process is indeed a secret, there’s no better place than the biga recipe from Carol Field’s “The Italian Baker,” winner of the International Association of Culinary Professionals Award for best baking book and has been named to the James Beard Baker’s Dozen list of 13 indispensable baking books of all time.

Italian Biga Recipe by Carol Field
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons water, preferably bottled spring water, at room     temperature
2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Stir the yeast into the warm water and let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the remaining water and then the flour, 1 cup at a time. By hand, 3-4 minutes; with mixer, 2 minutes at lowest speed; with food processor, mix just until a sticky dough forms. Transfer the biga to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at a cool room temperature for 6 to 24 hours (many bakers are happiest with the maximum amount of time when it truly becomes yesterday’s dough). When ready, the starter will be triple its original volume and still be wet and sticky.  If you like sour bread, allow your biga to rest for 24 to 48 hours, or you might even stretch it to 72 hours. Cover and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. If freezing the biga, let it rest at room temperature for about 3 hours until it is bubbly and active again.

Next week, another notch…a look at some of the fresh ingredients used to raise the art of bread making to flavorful highs… sesame seeds, Moroccan black olives, whole cloves of garlic – sounds like Chefs Line™ in the making.