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You Want Fresh?

November 29, 2000|DAVID KARP

Amid last week's pre-Thanksgiving bustle at the Culver City farmers market, Alvin Karbin, a retired mechanical engineer, set out a cute little stand with greenleaf lettuce, acorn squash and bright orange Fuyu persimmons from his West Los Angeles backyard. Selling at a farmers market for just the second week, he put a sign saying "picked at 1 p.m." next to the lettuces, which indeed were as fresh as could be.

Freezing weather two weeks ago hurt production at many vegetable growers, including Culinary Farms of Reseda, but the stand still managed to offer top-quality baby arugula, baby spinach and mesclun. Munak Ranch of Paso Robles had some of the last of the season's heirloom tomatoes, including Brandywines, Tangerines and Oxhearts--not as sweet as a few months ago, but still more flavorful than commercial hybrids.

Pao Moua of Fresno sold large, pristine nappa cabbage, Shanghai bok choy, long purple Asian eggplant, winter melon and pale white chayotes, richer and nuttier in flavor than the common light green kind. From Three Rivers, James Birch of Flora Bella Farm brought organic rutabagas and Nero Tondo radishes, round and black-skinned, with crisp, white pungent flesh, as well as Cavolo Nero kale, which gains tenderness and flavor from freezing temperatures.

McGrath Farm of Camarillo had organic butternut, Delicata, Moroccan and Tahitian squash, along with sweet Chandler strawberries. Sherrill Orchards of Arvin sold dark, sweet, slightly tannic pomegranate juice, and two late-season Australian apple varieties, Granny Smith and Lady Williams. Patty Kosmo of Cuyama offered the offspring of these two: superbly crisp, sweet-tart and flavorful Pink Ladys, arguably the best apples at farmers markets at this time. From Fallbrook, Lori Herbel sold Gosho persimmons, an old Japanese variety, similar to Giant Fuyu, that served as the prototype of non-astringent persimmons; she also had Hachiyas, Fuyus and feijoas.

While serving as a volunteer at the information booth, Bill Davis, who came to Los Angeles in 1934, when he was 14, sold his fine homemade sweet potato pie, a worthy rival to ubiquitous pumpkin pies.

Culver City farmers market, Media Park, Culver Boulevard and Canfield Avenue, Tuesdays 3 to 7 p.m.

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