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Front Burner | FARMERS MARKET REPORT

Guavas and Cheer in Whittier

March 01, 2000|DAVID KARP

The Whittier farmers market is modest in size but has a cheerful small-town ambience and a good selection of growers. Last Friday, Bud and Mimi Hirayama had pink-fleshed Hawaiian guavas and huge Oroblancos from their Anaheim backyard, as well as vegetables from their farm in Riverside: tender young spinach, spicy arugula, Hass avocados and mild Japanese turnips.

Jose Jaime, who grows in the city of Industry (guess it's the city of Agriculture too), set up a gorgeous display of sweet, crisp little Minicore carrots, along with watercress, cilantro and green peppers. From the Imperial Valley, Kelomar's Abu Zubair sold asparagus and asparagus tips so fresh and tender they were delicious raw.

Dan Hashiba of Orange had Japanese cucumbers, daikon, radishes, celery and green- and red-leafed lettuce. He managed to salvage a few boxes of sweet Chandler strawberries from his muddy fields; other growers had plenty of Camerosas, hardier in the rain though typically less flavorful. J&C Ranch of Fillmore sold ripe Fairchild mandarins, Ruby grapefruit, Eureka lemons and navel oranges; Robert and Winnie Knight had especially fine navels from Redlands.

Betty and Truman Kennedy sold assorted dried white nectarines (including luscious Snow Queens) and (hidden in their truck because of limited supply), legendary Stanwicks, an heirloom variety with dense, chewy texture and intense, almost pineapple-like flavor. Truman also offered an unusual selection of dried plums and prunes: rosy Angelino plums, small Oregon sour prunes and old-fashioned President prunes, halved and pitted. "It's a big, old, ugly prune, but tasty," he says.

Whittier farmers market, Bailey Street between Greenleaf and Comstock avenues, Fridays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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