I've been running around this summer. A lot. So much that I feel as though I've been neglecting my friends at the Hollywood Farmers' Market (map). Tomas from Lily's Eggs. John from Sea Fever Seafood. Angel Orozco from Cafecito Organico and Zach Cox from Carmela Ice Cream, to name a few. These people have been part of my Sunday morning ritual for the past few years. They are my community. My church.
So yesterday I drove over to Hollywood to get my friend fix, and picked up some great farmers' market info and, as always, delicious food, too.
I began my visit with a warm hug from Lily Baltazar, who runs the herb stand at the Hollywood market. Aside from pantry staples like Italian parsley, basil and thyme, Lily had lemon verbena (one of my favorites), lemongrass and, new to me, Hoja Santa leaves. I recognized them right away as the same plant that grows along the wall behind my house. Lily explained that the broad green leaf, which has a fig-like shape, means "blessed leaf" and is very common in Mexican cooking. Oaxaqueños use it to wrap their tamales, and in other parts of the country it is used as a wrapper-infuser for things like fish, imparting a minty tarragon-like flavor. Lily also told me that she's going to be teaching two how-to classes on pantry herbs at the Farmer's Kitchen in September, teaching. Dates aren't settled yet, but visit her at the market or check the SEE-LA website to find out more.
Over at Peacock Family Farms, Scott Peacock had gorgeous eggplants and grapes, but it was his peppers, from heirlooms to bells to spicy Hungarians that caught my eye. Whether you like them blistering hot or sweet, peppers are in their prime right now and can add great depth to lots of dishes.
In addition to Peacock, Weiser Family Farms has their famed Padrone peppers, which are mostly sweet, but one in 10 are smokin' hot, which makes eating them a fun gamble. If you're buying peppers, look for ones that are heavy for their size with uniformly firm flesh, and store them tightly wrapped in the fridge until you're ready to fire-roast, slice raw or sauté them.
After visiting many of the farmers I mention time and again here, I decided to take advantage of the morning to meet some new ones, like Anthony and Melissa Balderama of Balderama Farms in Orosi. They had ruby and Thompson seedless grapes that were firm, tart and sweet, and delicious Zeeglow nectarines that were reddish in color with a distinctive oval shape and sweet, balanced flavor. (You can also find them at the Saturday Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw market and Anthony's parents at the Saturday Santa Monica Pico market).
I also met Jarred Powell, son of Doug Powell, a farmer out in Redlands, California. He had a truckload (literally, the bed of a truck full) of melons, including rattlesnake watermelons, honeydew and an amazing, unnamed natural cross that looked like a webbed watermelon but tasted like a cucumber. The Powell farm, called T&D Farms, also grows sweet potatoes, which should be coming up in a few weeks, boysenberries, and apples like pink ladies, mutsus, granny smiths and galas, which Jarred will be bringing to market in September. They also have shallots, cipollini onions and garlic almost year-round.
Before heading out of the market, I was lured in by the gents at the Regier Farm stand. In a season where lots of stone fruits seem to be suffering from spring rain dilution, the Regier sub-acid yellow nectarines were the sweetest thing I ate at the market, with the white nectarines and peaches they offered a close second.
Emotionally and physically sated, I headed home
In Season Right Now
Plums Pluots Nectarines Peaches Tomatoes Cucumbers Tomatilloes Eggplants Peppers Grapes Summer Squash Melon
Sweet Potatoes More Tomatoes Apples Dates Figs Pomegranates Walnuts
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