Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Fat Uncle Farms: Finding Joy in Almonds

Regarding almonds: they're the best.  I have a giant bag of roasted almonds at my desk at work and eat them pretty much every day.  Almonds are my constant companion and I love them.  So, you can imagine my excitement when my old friend Lisa connected with her old friend Nate, a man who spends his days dealing in almonds. Lovely reader, I'd like to introduce you to Fat Uncle Farms.

[Full disclosure:  Fat Uncle Farms gave me lots of delicious free almond products.  But, even if they hadn't, I'd still think they're awesome.]

I met Nate at Fat Uncle's stand at the Atwater Village farmer's market one sunny Sunday not too long ago, and he told me a bit of the Farm's story.  Both he and his wife come from almond farming families, and both were in more traditional day jobs before they decided to take on the family business.  For the past five years, they've been growing almonds in a lush orchard in the San Joaquin Valley and turning them into delicious specialty items, which they sell at farmer's markets around town.  They also have some impressive commercial customers:  Proof Bakery uses their almond flour in its sweets, and SQIRL Cafe uses their almonds for the almond butter they slather on morning toast with jam.

Back at the farmers market, Fat Uncle has a variety of products, all made simply and with wholesome, familiar ingredients.  I'm really enjoying my personal bounty.  I've been piling up rosemary blistered almonds (just three ingredients: almonds, rosemary, salt) on cheese boards and adding almond butter (one ingredient: almonds) to banana and date smoothies.  But my favorite has been to spread chocolate almond butter (two ingredients: chocolate and almonds) on a piece of wheat toast and topping it with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt -- a decadent little snack.  And this weekend, I made an insanely delicious spicy chocolate tart, topped with the aptly named Ass Kickin' Ginger almonds (five ingredients:  almonds, salt, sugar, ginger, cayenne.  Addictive combo of sweet, salty, and devilishly spicy).  The tart is so good, it's going to get its own post.

For the short few weeks when they're in season, Fat Uncle even offers fresh young almonds:  mouth-puckeringly tart, fuzzy green on the outside, with a bright crunchy texture.  They've even been known to feature house-made marzipan.

Fat Uncle Farms are strong believers in community outreach and sustainable farming practices.  In fact, Nate and his wife Bekki live on a working farm in Lompoc. They've recently renovated the the ranch-hand's quarters and are offering it as a getaway destination on airnbnb.  Guests can help out on the farm and enjoy its bounty at meals, explore nearby wineries and beaches, and take quiet hikes through the surrounding rolling hills to views of the Pacific Ocean.  Honestly, the place sounds like an absolute dream.

You guys know that I'm driven by a sense of community.  I love sharing stories of food connecting people, and when the blog itself makes that happen, well, it makes me beam.  I'm so glad to have met Nate.  The story of Fat Uncle Farms, the way they treat their staff like family, their choices in living close to the land, are all so inspiring.  And even better, now I know that their chocolate almond butter is always just a Sunday farmers market away.

Fat Uncle Farms can be found at several farmers markets around LA.  Check out their website to find the nearest one or order online, or find them on goodeggs.

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