Supplies of frisée, a curly-leaved member of the chicory family, look to be strong right now.
“We have a plentiful supply of baby frisée as well as our signature, gourmet “Blonde” frisée, which are entirely yellow heads of ultra-blanched frisée. We expect strong supplies of both to continue through the summer,” says Matt Hiltner of Babé Farms, Inc. in Santa Maria, Ca.
Babe's "Blonde" frisée.
Hiltner notes that this year’s supply of frisée is noticeably better than last year thanks to the good weather patterns this spring. Babe’s supplies of frisée come out of California’s Santa Maria Valley. “The coastal Mediterranean growing climate and sandy loam soil allow us to grow frisée on a year-round basis,” says Hiltner, adding that competing product comes out of Oxnard, Ca.
Variety of uses
Meanwhile frisée, a versatile product that can be featured in salads or as garnishes on dishes such as steak or seafood, is in demand by chefs. “Namely chefs of high-end white tablecloth style restaurants,” says Hiltner. “They love frisée for its curly shape, texture and delicious bitter edge.”
That said, Hiltner adds that the item is on an upward trend currently. “As chefs look to cater to “foodie” culture, there is a consistent push to create dishes that are not only tasty, but also “Instagram-able”,” he says. “So adding colorful and visually appealing produce to an already on-trend dish like avocado toast is a slam dunk for chefs looking to maximize their reach via social media and Yelp.”
Yet, while prices on frisée had been relatively steady since this time last year, Hiltner has seen a recent change. “Prices have come down in recent weeks due to the great supplies,” adds Hiltner, noting that major challenges around the product tend to center around the weather. “Overcast mornings, wet weather and heat are all factors that can cause quality issues,” he says.