It’s Saturday, probably the biggest day for Farmers Markets, and in Santa Monica, it’s so big that there are two. A larger market, that used to be in an empty lot on Pico, is now in the parking lot of the Santa Monica Airport. The smaller, all-organic market is on Arizona Ave, between 2nd and 3rd streets.
It’s Saturday, so there’s no need for clever strategy to escape the office to continue my week-long farmers market mission. But it’s Saturday and the markets open when? 8 am. *groan* I need a little more motivation than the promise of fresh berries to get me out of bed, so although I’ve been several times to the airport market, I go to the one on Arizona. It’s closer to my house, yes, but the ocean view is a good incentive, plus it crosses 3rd Street Promenade – somewhat bearable for retail shopping before noon, when all the tourists begin to descend like locusts.
The market is all abuzz by 9 o’clock. I guess I’m the only one who’s hungover. I need hydration. Passing through the Second Street entrance I grab a few samples of oranges. Ah, refreshed.
The clientele here is eclectic. Many tourists, already awake, since they’re on east coast time, marvel at the types of produce that are *wow* actually local to southern California. I fit right in with them, snapping photos of tropical limes and already ripe strawberries. Their sweatshirts are wrapped around their waists – who knew springtime in L.A. means it’s almost 80 degrees before noon? There are local Santa Monica residents out for their morning walk with their little ones in strollers and paper Coffee Bean cups in hand. And every once in while, I see serious market hounds with huge crates and wire baskets on wheels, carting boxes of produce somewhere. These must be the restaurant people.
Halfway to the Fourth Street side, where the market’s official information booth is set up, there’s the lone food vendor, selling breakfast. With all the berries, apples, apricots, cherries I’ve tasted, I don’t need to stop there. Besides, I better run! Killer snails! Next time, I’ll actually stop by the booth the find out more about them. ;) I do however, stop at another buggy booth, Bill’s Bees.
Bill is very very passionate about his bees and their beautiful golden honey. He wants me to taste them all. This one is orange blossom, because the bees eat from the orange blossoms. And this one is sage. It’s different, see? Lighter in color, and tastes like the sage. I’m nodding like I can tell the taste difference, but I’m about as good at this I am with wine. But the honey really was delicious, so I bought a bottle of the sage honey for future use.
By Saturday, Santa Monica is the fifth farmers market I’ve visited on my market mission, so the produce is all very familiar to me now. I’m looking for something to cook, and high piles of scallions look promising. After a
disappointing dinner the week before at Chosun Galbee, I got a bee in my bonnet to make a proper hae-mool pah-jun (seafood and green onion pancake) at home. *eh* What else? I’ve seen fava beans at all the markets, but I’ll have to be honest, ever since a terrifying nightmare after watching Silence of the Lambs, I can’t feel totally normal about fava beans. I'm even still slightly weirded out when I drink Chianti.
The thing that really catches my eye is a small box overflowing with the most beautiful artichokes I’ve ever seen. A deep, regal purple, the size of my fist, these tiny artichokes really do look like flowers, not like the
giant green globes I did on Friday from Venice.
I end up with...zucchini, not that exciting, but another vegetable that I absolutely love. And unlike fresh artichokes, I am very, very familiar with preparing zucchini. Zucchini bread. Zucchini-ccine (long fettuccine-like ribbons of zucchini with alfredo), ho-bahk jun (Korean-style battered and pan-fried), I can even eat then simply grilled.
I made zucchini cakes. Coarsely grated zucchini has a lot of water, so after about 20 minutes in a salt spa, the water can be easily squozen out. A tumble with pepper, thinly sliced onions, a handful of matzo meal (normally, this would be breadcrumbs, but I had lotzoh matzoh meal leftover from Passover), and an egg, then they go for a little sizzle in a well-olive-oiled pan. They’re pretty good finger-picked straight out of the pan, but let’s make it a little more civilized. I served them up with a little lemon yogurt sauce.
The leftovers are pretty good cold out of the fridge, too. ;)
Farmers Markets, Saturdays in L.A. County:
Burbank - East Olive Ave at North Glen Oaks Blvd, 8 a.m. to 12 -30 p.m. 626.308.0457
Calabasas, Old Town - Calabasas Rd near Mulholland Dr, Calabasas, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 818.591.8161
Cerritos - Park Plaza and Towne Center drives, 8 a.m. to noon. 866.466.3834
Chatsworth - Devonshire St between Canoga and Owensmouth avenues. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 818.470.0808
Diamond Bar - Calvary Chapel Church parking lot, Grand Ave at Golden Springs Dr, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 909.860.1904
Gardena - 13000 Van Ness Ave., Holly Park Church parking lot, 6 -30 a.m. to 12 -30 p.m. 310.217.9500
La Cañada-Flintridge - Beulah Dr and Foothill Ave, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 818.591.8161
Los Angeles, Central Ave. - 43rd St and Central Ave, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 323.463.3171
Los Angeles, Harambee - 5730 Crenshaw Blvd. north of Slauson Ave, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 323.292.5550
Pasadena, Victory Park - North Sierra Madre Blvd and Paloma St, 8 -30 a.m. to 12 -30 p.m. 626.449.0179
Pomona - Pearl St and Garey Ave, 7 -30 to 11 -30 a.m. 310.621.0336
Santa Monica, Pico - Santa Monica Airport Airport Ave and Donald Douglas Loop., 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 310.458.8712
Santa Monica , Arizona - Arizona Ave and 3rd St, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. 310.458.8712
Silver Lake - 3700 Sunset Blvd., 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 323.661.7771
Torrance - Wilson Park, 2200 Crenshaw Blvd., 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 310.328.2809
West Covina - 1000 W. Covina Parkway, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. 626.338.8496
Farmers Markets, Saturday in Orange County:
Corona del Mar - Marguerite Ave and PCH, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 949.361.0764
Dana Point - Hennessey's La Plaza, PCH and Golden Lantern, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 909.229.3329
Irvine - University Center across from UCI, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 714.573.0374
Laguna Beach - Lumberyard parking lot, Forest and Ocean avenues, 8 a.m. to noon. 714.573.0374
Yorba Linda - Main St at Imperial Hwy in Old Towne. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 714.777.8377
Farmers Markets, Saturday in Riverside County:
Temecula, Old Town - 6th and Old Town Front streets, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 760.728.7343
Farmers Markets, Saturday in San Bernardino County:
Montclair - 9840 Central Ave., 2 -30 to 6 p.m. 909.624.4569
Farmers Markets Saturday in Ventura County:
Ventura, downtown - Santa Clara and Palm streets, 8 -30 a.m. to noon. 805.529.6266