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Farmers Market Report

April 21, 1999|DAVID KARP

The Costa Mesa farmers market, held Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Orange County Fairgrounds, started in 1981, making it the oldest in the county. It's the second largest, after Irvine, and one of the best, with many unusual offerings.

Last Thursday, the first warm day after a long stretch of chilly weather, Barbara Martin from Fallbrook sold what she called "rose oranges," really Vainiglia Sanguigno, an old Italian variety of acid-free blood orange that tastes like an orange Creamsicle. Her "wildberry navels" turned out to be Cara Cara pink-fleshed oranges with a delightful tutti-frutti flavor.

Nearby, Rudy Haluza of Buena Park and Temecula sold crates of Chandler pomelos to eager Vietnamese customers, who arrived early to scoop up the largest specimens. Most intriguingly, he had a few atemoyas, a tropical cherimoya hybrid that is rare in California. He also had Pierce cherimoyas, one of the tastiest kinds, and his own selection, the El Bumpo, ugly but delicious.

The first peaches are still a few weeks off--about 10 days late this year--but Leslie Farms from Carlsbad had small white-fleshed loquats, the earliest of soft fruits. He also sold jalapeno and serrano chiles grown in greenhouses as well as artichokes, sugar snap peas and Camarosa strawberries. The Yatsukochi stand offered especially sweet Chandler strawberries from San Luis Rey in north San Diego County, along with flavorful cherry tomatoes. Yasutomi, from Pico Rivera, had hydroponic greens, daikon, Japanese cucumber, tatsoi and komatsura, also called Japanese spinach.

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