Fava beans? Bloomsdale spinach? English peas? The calendar may say it's "officially" summer, but many of spring's fruits and veggies are lingering at Southern California farmers' markets this year, along with June gloom and the jacaranda blossoms that create lavender-tinted veils all over Hollywood (and stick to the bottom of your shoes for a week).
Sure I saw some melons—Weiser Family Farms had bocce ball-sized French cavallone melons with lovely tangerine colored fresh—and the watermelon and flavorosa pluots from Arnett Farms in Fresno were sweet and ripe, it was the holdovers from spring that caught my attention first at yesterday's Hollywood Farmers' Market.
It was a struggle to get through the throngs of people in sundresses, shorts and oversized sunglasses on this hazy-but-warm June morning, to the unruly looking bushels of certified organic fresh garbanzo beans at Flora Bella Farms. These green chickpeas in their papery shells are so creamy and delicious; they're hard to pass up if you can afford them. (They're $20 a bushel.) While their season extends through the summer, Flora Bella will only have them for a few more weeks.
Tutti Frutti farms had snap peas, English peas, spinach and favas, as did McGrath, and the strawberries from Pudwill's, Harry's Berries and, well, nearly everyone else, were still fragrant, sweet and juicy.
Forbidden Fruit Orchards from Santa Barbara moved a couple of weeks ago to the far north end of the market near Hollywood Boulevard, but they're still on deck for a few more weeks with the sweetest, most succulent organic blueberries you can find. Boysenberries, ollalieberries, blackberries and raspberries are plentiful, too. Sweet and tart, the best ones I found were from Jimenez Family Farms (who also raise and sell some of the tastiest meat at the market—pork, goat, lamb and rabbit) and Murray Family Farms. Murray's Navajo blackberries were sweet stain-your-fingers dark, and their Merry raspberries looked like little rubies sitting in their green baskets.
My favorite fisherman, John Wilson of Sea Fever Seafood, was completely out of Santa Barbara Spot Prawns by the time I arrived. But he did have plenty of happily crawling yellow rock crabs, sea urchins,conch, Ridgeback shrimp and assorted fishes, including fresh, line-caught halibut, snapper, Sockeye and Coho salmon. (He also told me he was in the process of scouting locations for a seafood store stocked with locally-caught goodies, something Los Angeles desperately needs.)
Scott Peacock from Peacock Family Farms in Dinuba had nectarines, peaches and apricots, as well as gorgeous Eight Ball zucchini perfect for stuffing, soft-shelled pecans and Early Girl tomatoes that made me think that real summer (read: warm)—and plentiful opportunities to eat Carmela Ice Cream's decadent ice cream sandwiches—isn't really so far off after all.
Hollywood Farmers' Market
Selma Ave between Ivar and Hollywood Blvd. (map) Sundays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., open year round rain or shine.
Blueberries Strawberries Blackberries Boysenberries Raspberries Fava Beans English and Snap peas Haricot Verts Garbanzo Beans Bloomsdale spinach
Corn Melons Summer Squash Figs Apricots Nectarines Plums
About the Author: If you are what you eat, Leah Greenstein would currently be a blueberry. Besides that she's a food and wine writer based in Los Angeles.