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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Chino Farm

6123 Calzada Del Bosque
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
(858) 756-3184
Hours: Tuesday
- Saturday 10 -4, Sunday 10 -1, Closed Monday

30 minutes north of San Diego and 2 hours south of Los Angeles down a windy road is arguable the most celebrated fruit and vegetable farm in California. Chino Farm has a who’s who clientele including Wolfgang Puck and Alice Waters. When I decided to plan a trip to San Diego, I knew I had to make a stop at the farm on the way back up to LA and would recommend it to the culinary connoisseur for a better understanding of your foods’ source.

With a reputation so grand, you would only expect the farm to be organic, but it’s not. They do spray some of their harvest to some extent. I was surprised the first time I heard that, but they source to Chez Panisse so I can only assume they spray their crops with liquid cocaine.

They don’t have a website, so have included the hours that were posted on site. I read they extend the hours to five during the summer.

As I parked and walked around, you quickly notice their customer base is primarily the well-to-do with an expectation for the best. I sensed this from the luxury cars, the prices, and the clean feet, all contrary to what is witnessed at a farmers market.

(Parking Lot)

(Oranges, Squash)


(Heirloom Tomatoes)

(Eggplant, Tomatoes, Figs, Strawberries)

(Pluots, Raspberries, Basil, Brussels Sprouts, Lima Beans)

(Bay Leaves, Sorrel, Parsley, Dill, Basil)

(Carrots, Squash, String Beans)

(Bay Leaves, Sorrel)

(Bell Peppers, Canteloupe, Radishes, Beets)

(Bok Choy, Peppers, Fennel, Radishes)

(Swiss Chard, Kale)

I walked around for a couple minutes and decided on the following grocery list with a few comparative tasting notes below: $4 Okra, $8 White corn, $4 pluot, $10 orange watermelon, $10 rainbow watermelon, $5 brussels sprouts, $6 lima beans, $3 heirloom tomatoes, and $2 kale

(orange watermelon, rainbow watermelon)
Both were of good quality and similar. Compared to the yellow watermelon I get at the Hollywood Farmers Market, I found this more fibrous.

The best kale I have ever had, very vibrant and crisp.

(Heirloom Tomato, Pluot)
The tomato was meatier than a regular tomato with less seed and water. The pluot I get in Hollywood is sweeter and juicer than this one. I originally thought a pluot was just the new commercial name for a plum, but upon further reading it's actually a hybrid between a plum and an apricot developed and patented by Floyd Zaiger.

(Brussels Sprouts)
At double the cost, I was disappointed; it was more bitter than the farmers market.

(Bok Choy)
Two varieties of bok choy, both were comparable in taste to the farmers market, but cost twice as much.

One of the more neglected ingredients in today's kitchen, I'll give Chino the victory. Where some okra, can have a degree of sliminess, the taste here was very clean.

(White Corn)
Two nods for farmers market large kernal size of for sweetness. Oddly, I was reminded how good corn could be with a simple sauteed version at CUT who sources from Chino Farm.

A 53rd generation member of the Chino family helped us with goods to the car; I guess that’s where the other $30 went. Interestingly, I spoke to him for a few minutes and he mentioned that the family had nine children and left the farm to only four of the kids and a failed lawsuit ensued.

A trip to Chino Farms is warranted for the reputation, but a return trip and another $70 grocery bill is unlikely.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't the correct term a "Pluot"?
    (You have it as "Plout".