British baked goods meet Californian ingredients at the Santa Barbara Night Market

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Santa Barbara pastry chef Sandra Adu Zelli will debut her new bakery business, Gipsy Hill Bakery at the Santa Barbara Night Market , a holiday pop-up inside the old Macy’s building in downtown Santa Barbara.

“It’s going to be pies and holiday cookies, but I’m giving myself room because I have a lot of ideas for creativity in the next few weeks,” she says. “I don’t want to be put in a box, not even a pie box.”

Beyond your traditionally seasonal treats, she’s planning to make vegan shortbread, buckwheat ginger chocolate cookies, savory tarts, panettone and mince pies with raisins and orange peel.

Sandra Adu Zelli picks up apples for pies at Fair Hills Farm. (Kathryn Barnes/KCRW) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

At the Santa Barbara Farmers Market, Adu Zelli is searching for rhubarb to add to apple rhubarb and strawberry rhubarb pies. 

“It brings back nostalgia for me, as a kid growing up in England,” she said. “My mom used to make apple and rhubarb crumble with lots and lots of custard, and I just loved the sweet and the sour with the fat of the custard. I’m really excited to bring some of my childhood nostalgia to Santa Barbara.”

Here are some fun facts about rhubarb:

  • Rhubarb is a vegetable, not a fruit.
  • Don’t eat the leaves of the rhubarb plant! They’re poisonous.
  • In Europe, rhubarb is often grown indoors in the dark, by candlelight. “This keeps the rhubarb young, tender and extremely pink,” said Adu Zelli. “It’s called champagne rhubarb because it’s the best rhubarb money can buy. I actually used to cook the champagne rhubarb in champagne.”
  • Since most of the rhubarb in the U.S. is grown outdoors, it grows half pink and half green.
  • Rhubarb cooked down with sugar tastes great with apples and holds up to fatty meats like fois gras and pork.

Cover photo by Bill Couch

Want more farmers market inspiration? Click here.