By July 1, 2015 Read More →

ChefView – Fresh Eats!

Chef View

Get Your Fresh On!

By Dana Johnson

Here it is, a hot summer in the valley, each of us looking for a way to beat the heat and still enjoy the best of it all. Of course, we have numerous choices, its Modesto after all; we have plenty of ice cream/ yogurt shops and a long list of cool-dark watering holes for cold beers & cocktails, while we are also incredibly fortunate to have refreshing local produce galore all around us!

Fidel’s Fruit Stand (209) 765-0336

7050 Mc Henry Ave. (cross street Stewart) Modesto

Open seasonally from mid-April to Halloween

Hours: M-Sat. 9am-6pm, closed Sunday

The sun was shining bright as I rolled up on Fidel’s Fruit Stand in an orchard setting. I was easily lured in from all those taunting road signs shouting “Fresh” Plums! Pluots! Peaches and Nectarines (yellow & white)! Fidel and Anabella Ypez took over the 20 acre farm in 2000. In 2003 they acquired 20 more acres and 10 more in 2014 that they lease to other local farmers. Fidel also buys local grown vegetables for resale and customer convenience to nicely stock his place, including the highly acclaimed Brentwood corn. You’ll also find local made jams/preserves and a variety of honey that comes from Angel’s Camp. I left with a bag full of wholesome goodness that disappeared quickly from the fruit bowl on my kitchen counter! Each bite so juicy and totally Dana~licious!

Loretelli Farms (209) 577-2425

1151 Claratina Ave. Modesto

Open seasonally

Hours: Mon.-Sat. 8am-7pm, Sunday 8am-5pm

Since 1985, Bill Loretelli has been spoiling his customers with an array of fresh produce, preserved goods, nuts, honey, and baked goods that are local and all super fresh! From the street, I never would have imagined all these tasty selections that surrounded me once inside. I saw the biggest lemons I’ve ever laid eyes on, and was salivating at the fresh baked pies from The Pie Co. of Ripon, with luscious seasonal fruits that I continuously snacked on, while I was imaging my lunch to consist of a sandwich on Genova Bread of Stockton (in business 90 years!) or Portuguese sweet bread from Rose Bakery in Escalon spread with kadota fig jam or perhaps some almond butter, and a veggie loaded salad topped with a local dressing, garnished with those pickles and olives I can’t wait to try & say it’s Dana~licious!

Ratto Bros. (209) 545-7575

6312 Beckwith Rd. Modesto

Wholesale only

Though there is no roadside produce stand, there’s no doubt you have enjoyed the mostly “green goodness” of Ratto Bros. produce! Since 1905 Ratto Bros. has been farming Cali soil, beginning in the Bay Area and moving to Modesto in 1963. They market 70+ produce items & grow 45 different types of produce (Basil is my favorite!), including an abundance of “specialty” produce; Napa cabbage, celery root, leeks, kale, Belgium endive, parsnips & more. Seven types of lettuce; butter, green leaf, red leaf, romaine, endive, escarole, & spring mix. Greens; collard, turnip greens, dandelion, spinach, & yes, more! The herbs are amazing the way they enhance even the simplest dish; rosemary, oregano, mint, arugula, marjoram, baby and crown dill, cilantro and at you will find even more. Their website also has free recipes!

Their fresh produce can be found on numerous restaurant menus like Verona’s and Vito’s. Save Mart and Winco also carry this Dana~licious produce that I incorporate in my daily diet. See us on youtube, “Dana Johnson & Ratto Bros” for demo videos featuring Dana~licious original recipes on FOX40 News!

Modesto View signature question: Bill Loretelli, Beatles or Stones? “Stones, I was never a Beatles fan.” Once again reinforcing how the Stones contribute to the best tastes of Modesto!

Recipe – Clip and Save

Ratto Family Basil Pesto


4 cups packed fresh basil leaves, washed well

1Ž2 cup pine nuts, toasted until golden, cooled, and chopped fine

1Ž2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1Ž4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


In a food processor place basil with remaining ingredients until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.




Posted in: featured, food & drink

About the Author: