I stopped by Nomad Pizza on the last Thursday in October to meet up with Alan Zaback of Z Food Farms as he dropped off produce to Nomad pizzaiola Dan Pizzutillo. Alan is the father of Z Food founder, Dave Zaback, and handles weekly deliveries. They started delivering to Philly restaurants this year. The farm is currently finishing out its 6th season.
Brion J. Shreffler: How did your day begin?
Alan Zaback: David will get to the farm around 7:30-ish at this time of year to start harvesting. Earlier in the year, he’ll get there earlier than that. Depending on what the order is, he’ll start harvesting all the greens they got here like the arugula and the baby mustard greens. All that stuff was harvested this morning. The beets that they got. A couple of things might have been harvested on Wed. We have our farm stand at the farm on Wednesdays and they harvest on Wed morning. Most of it is 24, 48 hours old at the oldest. That’s what we do for the farm stand and for when you come on Saturday[for the Rittenhouse Square farmers market]. Everything is freshly harvested. The only thing that may not be freshly harvested is the potatoes. I’ll get there between nine and ten and I’ll start washing everything off and then I’ll help him [Dave] finish weighing and boxing up the orders. Then we put it in my car and away I go.
Brion: Where are you at in NJ?
Alan: We’re right off exit 8B. Coming down here Saturday morning for the Rittenhouse farmer’s market, it’s 40, 45 minutes door-to-door. On a Thursday, it can vary.
Brion: Nomad’s last on your route. Where did you go before here?
Alan: First delivery was Fat Ham. Just breezed down 95. From Fat Ham, I went to Sbraga. From there I went to Market Day Canelé. And then here. Today was four deliveries. It varies from week to week. Sometimes we do Fitler Dining Room. Sometimes Pumpkin. Last week for the first time, we did Bardot, which is another Fat Ham alumini. Gabe at Fitler used to work at Fat Ham and this guy Matt at Bardot used to work at Fat Ham, which is where they both discovered us when we started delivering to Sbraga last year. Last year, through Scott at Elements, we started linking up with Kevin after we’d get down with the market at Rittenhouse. We would load up the truck and we’d drive over to Sbraga. He would come out with his sous chef and they’d see what we have. For this year, David asked what about delivering on Thursdays.
Brion: What are things particular to this time of year that you’re dropping off?
Alan: This week, a bunch of mustard greens to go with the Swiss chard and kales. We still have bags of baby red Russian kale, salad mix, and arugula. With radishes, we have the watermelon radishes, the breakfast radishes, the Shunkyo long radishes, and starting this week we have the daikon radishes. And we have three different types of turnips. So, people have a lot of different options.
Brion: What about Nomad, specifically?
Alan: [Today] they got the baby mustard greens, some watermelon radishes, some French breakfast radishes, some pumpkins, some white and purple hinona kabu turnips—they got three bunches of those. It’s usually based upon what we have. I believe they have a salad using primarily our ingredients.
Dan Pizzutillo: We’ve been ordering a lot of those hot peppers from you—the espelettes. We’ve been making this espelette vinegar hot sauce with it. That was nice.
Alan: The espelette is a Basque region pepper. It’s used as a condiment. You can chop it up and add it to a sauce or to a pizza. I cooked some at home and dehydrated them and made my own powder. Putting some on a sandwich as a powder it added this unique flavor with an appropriate amount of heat. Take a bite out of the pepper itself and it’s a lot hotter than the book says it is—1 Scoville. It brought tears to my eyes.
Alan: [To Dan] Didn’t you also get the not hot hots?
Dan: Yeah, we pickled a bunch of those and put them on the side with some of our fried food.
Alan: Oh, nice.
Dan: Yeah. We pickled some fennel too.
Alan[to me]: So the not hot hots have the aroma and flavor of habanero but they have virtually no heat. It’s more of a spiciness than a hot pepper heat.
Dan: The orange ones? Yeah, they’re delicious.
Alan: That’s something that other vendors aren’t offering.
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