Northern Californians are the first to admit they’re spoiled with year-round access to fresh produce. Even so, some varieties still turn heads to the delight of growers and eaters alike.
Such is the case with Romanesco, one of the crops the team at The Garden at AT&T Park in San Francisco most loves to grow. It’s a vegetable with many names: Romanesco cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli, broccolo Romanesco, and even fractal fruit. Romanesco heads are prized for their edible flower buds with mathematical patterns so striking they might inspire more Instagramming than cooking.
The cool ocean breezes around AT&T Park provide the perfect climate for this crop to thrive. Before developing any flower buds, Romanesco plants spend months producing massive edible leaves, which themselves are packed with flavor. In The Garden at AT&T Park, some of the Romanesco leaves grow so large that visiting kids call them “elephant ears.” When the Romanesco flower buds finally mature, they’re so stunning it’s sometimes difficult for the team to harvest them. Luckily, visiting kids are always happy to help with the harvest.
“Today I ate Romanesco cauliflower for the first time, and it’s actually pretty good. True fact!” shared one recent young visitor from West Bay Pilipino Center, a nonprofit dedicated to providing services to underserved populations in the South of Market District of San Francisco. During the field trip, each student harvested their own Romanesco flower bud and tried it raw. After the tasting, they were thrilled to use the freshly harvested Romanesco as a pizza topping.
Getting children to try new fruits and vegetables isn’t always easy, so kudos to these kiddos for eating Romanesco for the first time. Now that all the Romanesco has been harvested and enjoyed, the team is eager to plant some more!
Submitted by Sam Wilder, Program Manager