A hearty Mexican dinner erased the results of a terrible golf game, and the Cadillac margaritas could only be followed by “one more drink.”
Palm Desert bedtime hours be dammed!
Nutmeg is relatively certain that she does not need to layout the rest of the evening for you. It was late and the next morning required copious amounts of strong coffee.
The extended evening gave Nutmeg a bit of time to “grill” her dinner partner on his highly popular, seasonal fruit stand in West Vancouver. The details were fact-checked with Brian several weeks after, the above-mentioned evening, to ensure she got it right.
At the Westmount Park & Ride which is 3670 Westridge Avenue (just off exit 7 on highway 1), North Shore Vancouverites are indulged daily from mid-June to late September with fresh produce. Brian’s Fruit Stand is open from 11am-6pm offering regional, locally sourced B.C. fruit and vegetables. Owner and operator, Brian Latta, is excited and amazed to be commencing his twentieth season.
It started as a quasi-summer job, helping out some friends whose parents had the rights to a small roadside stand where they sold strawberries and raspberries in large volume. The entrepreneurial seed was planted – as he thought look at all the people stopping, just for berries. A few years later Brian renewed the license in his name and started expanding the offering to include other B.C. produce. As the queue forms each morning during set-up, it is clear that he has established a successful business model.
Summer mornings start early for Brian, fueled by a large cup of coffee and his iPod he drives out to the glorious Fraser Valley. Often when he arrives, the sun is just stretching over the fields and the picking staff has barely begun their day. With his trained and critical eye, Brian inspects the fresh produce coming in from the fields. He only fills his truck with quality product that meet his criteria:
1. Local – B.C. grown
2. Fresh – just picked
3. Excellent Quality – flavour and appearance
4. Responsible, sustainable growing practices
5. Family run businesses
6. Regular, reliable supply
Once the truck is loaded for the day, Brian heads back to the north shore. Regular customers begin to arrive as the tent, tables, signs and scales are arranged. Once the bounty for that day is displayed, it is time for the opening bell.
Brian works with about 30 producers during a season, some of whom he has worked with for many years. The Fruit Stand’s season officially kicks off sometime in June when the first local strawberries make their appearance. Early in the season there are only a few items such as strawberries, new potatoes and peas. As the summer months, pass items are added weekly and by the end of August there may be close to twenty kinds of fruit and vegetables for sale.
Producer Alf Kraus of Krause Berry Farms, is Brian’s longest term suppliers, he runs a large farm based on Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a sustainable growing practice that marries well with the Fruit Stand’s philosophy. They focus on crop diversification, crop rotation, minimized impact on land and soil, natural predators and lots of direct manual labour when it comes to things like weeds and pest control.
Aside from great suppliers, Brian credits his team of dedicated staff who pitch-in daily to run the stand, serve customers and work a very physical job while making the market a fun place to work.
Nutmeg asked Brian if he had a favourite amongst all the just-ripe produce he sells -hesitation – orange/yellow fleshed peaches with their syrupy juice dripping down your chin. Now that is summer!
With that in mind, the following is an easy summer recipe from Brian’s Fruit Stand. You can sign-up for his newsletter here.
- 6 Fresh Peaches
- ¼ Cup Butter, unsalted
- Preheat your barbecue to medium/low and lightly oil
- Wash the peaches, cut in half and remove pits
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan
- Place the peach halves open face down on the barbecue grill
- Baste with melted butter
- After several minutes, once peaches have caramelized slightly on grill side, flip and baste again
- After a few minutes the juices will start to collecting in the center, the peaches are done and can be removed from the heat
- Let stand a few minutes
- While cooling you can sprinkle with cinnamon and/or brown sugar or leave as is
Vancouver readers is that worth crossing the Lion’s Gate bridge for?
Photo Credits: Brian Latta