Market Scene: Summer's in Full Swing at the Hollywood Farmers' Market
Note: On Mondays, one of our various Market Scene correspondents checks in with what's fresh at farmstands, what's coming up, and what you better get while the gettin's good. Today, Leah Greenstein (SpicySaltySweet) drops by from Los Angeles.
It's baseball season--almost the All-Star break--which in my house means Red Sox games are playing on my TV every night. It also means screening phone calls, not checking text messages, and avoiding sites like Twitter and Facebook, where the multitudes seem to forget we live in the era of the DVR and inadvertently publish game spoilers. The nonstop baseball marathon also means that summer is in full swing, the grill is hot, and the produce at the Hollywood Farmers' Market (map) is irresistible.
I say irresistible knowing full well that I have more blueberries, raspberries, melon, and stone fruit in my fridge than I can possibly eat, not to mention the vegetables that I've been stocking up on--green beans and zucchini, Bermuda onions, and crookneck squash to name a few.
The heirloom tomatoes are looking much better now than they did this time last year. Tutti Frutti's display looks like a still life painting, vibrant painted crimson and lemon yellow, chartreuse and bright orange. I'm digging on the Brandywines again, which are sweet but with great acidity, making them a versatile tomato. With potentially at least two solid months of tomato-eating to go and many more heirloom varieties scheduled to come online, I'm focusing as much of my obsession to reading Amy Goldman's gorgeous book, the Heirloom Tomato: From Garden to Table, an encyclopedia of heirlooms with photos that make you want to lick the page and inspiring recipes that will keep you busy until the last Purple Calabash is gone.
I experimented the other night, rolling my grilled sweet corn in a mixture of butter, lime juice, minced garlic, cayenne pepper and chopped cilantro. It was savory and spicy and sweet, but I still think it had nothing on the Sweet Corn Ice Cream I made last year using Dan Barber's recipe in Gourmet. In fact, I think I owe the farmer I buy my corn from a pint. However you prepare the season's sweet corn, remember the natural sugars that make corn so deliciously sweet start converting to starch immediately after its picked so buy the freshest corn you can. If you don't plan on cooking it that night, be sure to leave it in the husk.
I started craving melons long before I got to the farmers' market this week because everybody's favorite farmer, Alex Weiser of Weiser Family Farms, started Twittering about them (@WeiserFarms). There were green-fleshed Ogen melons, an Israeli variety, Butterscotch melons with their duo-toned green-orange flesh and Werther Original perfume, and Cavaillon melons that are so sweet you can actually smell them from three stalls down.
Summer squash are everywhere you look, but few are as appealing as the scalloped pattypans at Peacock Farms, which look like green and yellow ballerina tutus tossed haphazardly in a basket. They're delicious grilled or sliced and blanched and would taste phenomenal with Meyer lemon creme à la Suzanne Goin.
Happy summer! I'm off to watch baseball and to wait patiently for Persian mulberries, the rare summer treat that's as elusive as a good knuckleball.
- Summer squash
- Persian Mulberries
About the author: Leah Greenstein is a Los Angeles-based food and wine writer. Her favorite bumper sticker says: Talk Nerdy to Me. You can find more about L.A.'s farmers' markets and seasonal recipes on her blog SpicySaltySweet.com.