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Front Burner : FARMERS MARKET REPORT : Organic and Mellow: Arizona Avenue

September 22, 1999|DAVID KARP

Two-thirds of the vendors at the Saturday Santa Monica farmers market on Arizona Avenue sell organic produce, the highest proportion of any farmers market in Southern California. Smaller and mellower than the Wednesday event in the same location, it abounds in high-quality produce.

Last Saturday, at the cusp of summer and fall, the Sweet Peach Farm had Ryan Sun peaches from Lancaster, and the Weiser stand offered tangy Virginia Gold apples from Lucerne Valley. See Canyon of San Luis Obispo sold striped Jonagold apples and stately russet Bosc pears.

David West displayed gorgeous wild chanterelles and lobster mushrooms, gathered near Crescent City, along with portabello, shiitake and oyster mushrooms cultivated in Delano. He also had wild huckleberries, small and tart, perfect for pancakes or sauces to accompany game.

The Flora Bella stand of Three Rivers sold sweet Concord grapes, with the wild "foxy" taste of native American grapes, as well as small, ruffled, red-orange Hmong eggplant--prized by Southeast Asians for their bitter flavor--and Turkish eggplant that looked like Roma tomatoes, suitable for grilling.

Coastal Organics of Camarillo had flageolets--tiny, delicate French lima beans. From Paso Robles, the Munak stand brought a bounty of melons, including classic green-fleshed Rocky Sweet muskmelons, as well as dark green poblano peppers, ideal for stuffing.

Armando Garcia of Fallbrook had Mexicola avocados, with thin, edible black skins, and juicy, aromatic Meyer lemons in the "silver" stage, just turning from green to yellow. Anna Fetzner sold luscious Conadria figs, with green skins and amber pulp; she also brought black-eyed peas, familiar Garnet sweet potatoes and unusual Japanese sweet potatoes, lumpy and slightly speckled, with sweet, white, dry flesh.

Eric Milliken of Four Apostles' Ranch in the Coachella Valley had fabulously soft, almost translucent Medjool dates, along with drier, chewier ones in the tamar stage.


Santa Monica Organic farmers market, Arizona Avenue between 2nd and 4th streets, Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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