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Front Burner | Farmers Markets

Out of Hand in Monrovia

September 06, 2000|DAVID KARP

As summer wanes, the mountain and high desert districts are harvesting their premium-quality peaches, apples and pears.

At Friday's Monrovia farmers market, just up the street from the crafts, clothes and jewelry booths of the town's Family Festival, strolling shoppers sampled superbly ripe, fragrant and flavorful O'Henry peaches from O-M-R Ranch of Littlerock (just across the mountains, if you're an eagle). The stand also offered yellow-skinned Rio Oso Gem peaches with a distinctive, almost citrusy taste much appreciated by connoisseurs, though the fruits' lumpy shape and scar-like suture have banished them from commercial orchards.

Kevin and Jenny Ha of Tehachapi sold tender, greenish-white-skinned white peaches with a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity; freshly picked, crisp and sugary Gala apples; and a few large zucchini, one in the form of a cobra coiled to strike.

Robert Wayman's stand had Shinseiki and Hosui Asian pears, small but very ripe, from Lancaster. From Orosi, in the Central Valley, Jack and Terry Balderama brought golden-yellow Thompson grapes, much sweeter than the green ones found at most markets. Gary Ondray of Squaw Valley sold green Mutsu apples and fresh shiitake, oyster and portabello mushrooms.

Luis Guevara of Chino had roundish, buttery Reed avocados, the best-tasting variety at this time of year, as well as Valencia oranges, Roma tomatoes and some giant orange and green squash that, he said had "gotten out of hand." Ontario's Maria Cabral sold black-eyed peas, white corn, bright purple onions and jalapenos, including some red, sweet and meaty ones.

Miguel Cervantes of Santa Ana had perky, aromatic basil, tomatillos, eggplant and bright orange, blazing hot habaneros. Carlsbad's Valdivia stand featured its signature product, exquisitely fresh squash blossoms, and Brandywine, Tangerine and Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes.

Monrovia farmers market, Myrtle Avenue between Lime and Palm avenues, Fridays, March through mid-December, 5 to 9 p.m.

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