Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rancho Santa Fe: Chino Nojo

Updated due to 92067 Rancho Santa Fe comments.

Last year, I got a taste of locally grown, farm fresh cuisine from Madison, WI and Berkeley, CA. Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley has been credited for creating and developing California cuisine. Much to my surprise, a vegetable stand in Rancho Santa Fe has fancied the likes of renown chefs Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck.

Chino Nojo (aka Chino Farm) is world famous for their quality, high-value specialty crops and has grown a cult following from prominent chef's in the San Diego area. So where is this place and how do I get there?
Locals know, Rancho Santa Fe is essentially the 6TH most expensive zip code in the U.S according to Forbes (2009). After driving past the rolling hills of uber expensive estates and mansions of Fairbanks Ranch and Santa Luz, there lies a quaint farm stand called the Vegetable Shop off the corner of Calzada Del Bosque and Via de Santa Fe.

Chino Nojo has been family-owned since 1969 and the family keeps a low profile: No website listed. I've also noticed that there hasn't been much coverage of this place in terms of blogs or news coverage. The latest review I found was from the Del Mar Times back in June 2009 and ever so often mentions and comments on the Chowhound boards.

Given the low profile and secrecy of this farm stand, I too will keep the information on this food mecca at a minimum. Why? 1. I want to come back and 2. Remember that Seinfield episode about the Soup Nazi. Well, you better know what you want before standing in line and have cash ready.

Here's a glimpse of what you will find here.
The first thing I noticed was there was no prices listed and a few of the items had descriptions such as Italian parsley, bay leaves, sage, etc.

The vegetable shop had a number of items I've never seen before so it was a learning experience. But for all you food photographers out there, be careful with your DSLRs. This is Rancho Santa Fe and some folks get a bit testy when you point your camera toward their way. One of the owners gave me a fair warning since it seems it happens quite often. Stick to the vegetables.

So what did I end of taking home? Strawberries and Butternut Squash. The stand is known for their farm fresh strawberries, particularly the Mara des Bois strawberries which is a French berry from a Spanish plant.

Mara des Bois strawberries - $5.00

Butternut Squash - $ unknown

Size comparison: On the left, an American style strawberry and on the right the French berry Mara des Bois strawberry.

Afterthoughts: I never really understood California Modern cuisine in San Diego, but Chino Nojo does give San Diego hope that one day we can be a culinary hub. I guess as long as the city's budget is still in the red, it won't be happening anytime soon.

In the meantime, I can drive 10 miles to Chino Nojo and grab good quality produce and recreate dishes from my Alinea or Ad Hoc at Home cookbooks. For the first time, I see the silver lining.

Things to know:
  • The owners refer to the farm as Chino Nojo (see comments below) even though numerous sources have referenced it as Chino Farms, Chino Ranch Farm, Chino Ranch, etc. Apparently, we were all wrong and have no clue what the name of the farm is.
  • The Vegetable Shop is located on the left side right after you make the turn from Via de Santa Fe.
  • Hours: Tue-Sat. 10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Sun. 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Closed on Monday. Arrive early for first dibs.
  • Price Range: $$$ (CASH ONLY). Prices are not listed, just bring a lot of cash. No ATM nearby.
  • Service Process: Before standing in line, scope out the produce. The line is located on the far right side (when facing the stand). Someone will gladly assist you and answer any questions you may have.
  • Food Photography: Ok to take photos of the produce; locals may not want their picture taken (ask for permission first).
  • Parking: A paved parking lot in front of the stand.
  • Popular items: The strawberries; both French and American.
Chino Nojo
6123 Calzada Del Bosque
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067


CAHİDE said...

harika görünüyorlar!

ivorypomegranate said...

These pictures are beautiful and really make me miss fresh produce! I can't wait until spring when the farmer's markets start up again.

92067 Rancho Santa Fe said...

#1: RSF 92067 is the second most expensive Zip after being first in the past.

#2 It's Chino FARM, not farms. Did you see more than one farm there? Plus, it's actually Chino Nojo. The Chinos -- whom I know well -- are Japanese-American and use the Japanese name themselves.

Other than that, yeah, the farm is one of the most amazing in the world.

92067 Rancho Santa Fe said...

And Cahidde: Cok Guzel; gule gule...(Can't do the Turkish script on my computer).

elle said...

92067 Rancho Santa Fe, are you a typical example of the people in your area? If so, I'll stick to my average, but cheap and friendly, farmer's market.

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