Parking in Westwood Village is a stressful gamble as it is, but with the late afternoon farmers market on Thursday, it’s pretty much a losing bet. I should have known better, gone home to slide right into my own personal parking spot, and taken the no. 2 Big Blus Bus, which drops off, along with a whole host of other public transport, right in front at the intersection of Westwood Blvd and Weyburn. Tip of the day: take the bus to Westwood.
But I called it a day at about 5:30 and left the office with plenty of time to make it before the market closes at 7 pm. Plenty of time to get to the Village, no doubt, but not enough time to allow for 45 minutes of the ever-widening radius I was circling to park. Slow...“Yes!”...Stop with hope...Then a not-so-quiet “For Pete’s f-in’ sake!” as I spy another car with it’s turn signal already waiting. Even many of the public lots were already full, but I had to save my cash for the market. God’s name must be Pete, because he graciously opened up a spot right in front of me, right in front of the market. Hallelujah!
Though the produce and food offerings are similar from market to market, and many of the represetative farmers are the same, I’m finding the vibe at each market is different. The Westwood market is more of a social gathering and less a marketplace for cooks on the look for dinner ingredients. I remember walking down to the market from campus for lunch, a refreshing break from Baja Fresh, Panda Express, and (God Forbid) Taco Bell, in Ackerman. Lots of blue and green scrubs, white lab coats, and backpacks, buying long bags of kettle korn and newspaper-wrapped flowers. A small band is playing live music in the dining area that’s set up in the center where people are enjoying crepes, tamales, galbee, shish kebabs. Oddly enough, there’s also a group of fobby (and I use the word “fobby” in the nicest way possible) little Asian girls in uniforms with cameras whose tour must include big university. Yep, it’s a bit more of a scene here.
It’s late in the day, so some of the farmers are slowly shutting down, packing crates, folding tables, and breaking down tents. A woman with a slight, pretty accent is calling out an end of market special on cherries. I have to wonder if she’s really a farmer; she’s tall, slender, very pretty, and looks like an off-runway model. Like the industry tradeshows I’ve been, have farmers, too, started hiring booth babes to help sell their wares? The cherries by themselves were beautiful.
The challenging part of my market mission hasn’t been about getting to the various markets. I should be a military stategist. Meticulously manipulating meetings to fit with the market schedule, getting faster and faster with the alt-tab to hide my computer screen as people walk by, clicking to sigalert.com to check on traffic, dashing to the printer before anyone else to snap up maps. I’m good. It’s trying to get myself to buy something unfamiliar that has been a bit of a failure. I bought Brussels sprouts. I bought asparagus. So, Thursday, it’s an alligator pear. Okay, so an alligator pear is really just an avocado. I can’t help but take home the vegetables I love.
It was originally going to be guacamole, but when sliced open, the avocado was still pretty firm. The other two alligator pears would have to sulk in a paper bag for a few days on the counter for being so fresh. This one became an avocado, mango, and shrimp salsa, served with some flour tortilla chips I baked (not fried). It’s not quite a ceviche, since the shrimp were marinated and grilled first, but next time, I may try it with raw ahi or maybe even scallops instead. I also have this notion of making it a cocktail, adding tequila in with the lime juice I used. I may have to leave out the mango though – who knew a mango allergy could come out of nowhere? *sad* I love mangoes. Now if it were an avocado allergy, I don’t know what I’d do with myself.
Also on Thursday in L.A. County:
Carson – Community center parking lot, Carson St between Bonita St and Avalon Blvd. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 310.847.3584
Century City – Constellation Blvd and Avenue of the Stars, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. 818.591.8161
Long Beach East – 2525 Grand Ave., Long Beach , 3 to 7 p.m. 866.466.3834
El Segundo – Main St between Holly and Pine avenues, 3 to 7 p.m. 310.615.2649
Glendale – City-owned parking lot 11
on Colorado Blvd at Brand Blvd 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 818.548.2005
La Cienega – La Cienega Plaza, 1801 S. La Cienega Blvd, 3 to 7:30 p.m. 310.398.1786
La Verne – Old Town La Verne, June 3 through August 26, 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. 909.592.3002
Los Angeles Downtown – 735 S. Figueroa St., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 213.955.7176
Los Angeles Chinatown – 727 N. Hill St., 2 to 7 p.m. 213.680.0243
Newhall – 23922 San Fernando Road, 4 to 8 p.m. 661.255.4347
Redondo Beach – Harbor Dr west of Veterans Park, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 310.372.1171
Redondo Beach – Torrance Blvd south of Redondo Beach Pier, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 310.372.1171
South Pasadena – Meridian Ave between Mission and El Centro streets, 4 to 8 p.m. 818.786.6612
West Hollywood – 710 N. San Vicente Blvd., May 25 through September, 1 to 6 p.m. 323.848.6502
Westwood Village – Weyburn Ave at Westwood Blvd., 1 to 7 p.m., 310.208.6115
Thursday in Orange County:
Anaheim – Center Street Promenade at Lemon St, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 714.956.3586
Costa Mesa – Orange County Fairgrounds, 88 Fair Drive, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 714.573.0374.
Coto de Caza – Coto Sports Park, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 909.229.3329
Fullerton – Wilshire Ave between Harbor Blvd and Pomona Ave, 4 to 8:30 p.m. 714.738.6545
Orange – Glassell St and Almond Ave 2 to 6 p.m. 714.633.3934
Thursday in San Bernardino County:
Lake Arrowhead Village – 28200 Hwy 189, 5 to 8 p.m., starting May 27. 909.337.2533
Redlands – East State St between Orange and 9th sts, 6 to 9:00 p.m. 909.798.7629
Upland – 9th St and Second Ave, April to October, 5 to 9 p.m. 714.345.3087
Victorville – Victor Valley College Upper Campus, 8 a.m. to noon. 760.247.3769
Thursday in Ventura County:
Oxnard – Plaza Park, Corner of 5th and C streets. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 805.483.7960
Thousand Oaks – Oaks Shopping Center, Wilbur Rd and West Thousand Oaks Blvd, winter, 3 to 6:30 p.m.; summer, until 7 p.m. 805.529.6266