I met Steve Sando before he was a famous author. About 5 years ago, when I was on the west coast to teach at Ramekins cooking school, I stopped off at his warehouse to see where all those fabulous heirloom beans were being shipped from. After showing me around town and buying me a delicous Mexican lunch (well, we did make a stop at The French Laundry, but it was just to drop off some beans), Steve loaded me up with samples of his beautiful beans.
I’d fallen in love with heirlooms in the early nineties when I was developing recipes for RECIPES FROM AN ECOLOGICAL KITCHEN. I loved the chestnutty-taste of Christmas Limas, the sexy ebony Black Valentine’s black, the earthy Steuben Yellow Eyes, and the vibrant reddish-pink Scarlet Runners. Back then, you could buy them at Dean & DeLuca’s, but it was difficult to get them by mail order, so when I learned about Steve’s Rancho Gordo, I went running at my first opportunity.
Steve sources his beans in Mexico and grows them in and around Napa, where Rancho Gordo is based. He sells whatever is available at the Ferry Plaza market in San Francisco every Saturday morning. You can mail-order his wonderful beans from www.ranchogordo.com, and he blogs enthusiastically about his travels, latest finds, and recipes at http://ranchogordo.typepad.com.
And don’t forget to take a look at his beautiful new book: HEIRLOOM BEANS, available through his website and in your neighborhood bookstore. Look on page 155 and you’ll find the recipe Lorna Sass’s Scarlet Runner Beans with Farro Risotto and Saffron, done in a pressure cooker, of course!