At the month-old Melrose Place farmers market, produce stalls are outnumbered two to one by crafts and prepared foods, but the farmers don't seem as overwhelmed as they do at some other markets. The new venue offers a decent selection of growers, strong on plants and flowers, though it is just beginning to catch on in the neighborhood.
Sunday, Scarborough Farms, a large operation that grows in Santa Maria, Oxnard and Brawley, displayed a rainbow of yellow, rose pink, creamy white and orange carrots; the unusual colored varieties don't taste different, but certainly are beautiful. The stand also sold high-quality salad fixings, including delicate baby spinach and arugula, mesclun and pristine radicchio.
Chue Her, one of two Hmong growers from the Fresno area, sold certified organic spinach, fennel, beets, turnips and unusual elongated red bell peppers. Nhia Her Moua's offerings included Shanghai bok choy, kohlrabi, pea shoots, round Thai eggplants, nappa cabbage and long sticks of sugarcane--you can peel it and suck the sweet liquid, or juice it in a cane press.
Mary Robles had remarkable strawberries, grown in Santa Maria, with pale pink and greenish white skin and firm, low-acid white flesh. They looked as if they'd be cottony and inedible, but ripe specimens were actually rather sweet, with a mild tutti-frutti flavor
H&H Citrus of Mentone, near Redlands, sold excellent juicy Valencia oranges, new crop navels (not at best yet from this district) and green-skinned, pear-shaped Zutano avocados, a variety used as a pollinizer. Although relatively low in oil, the avocados are worth trying now in their peak season.
Melrose Place farmers market, Melrose Place between Melrose Avenue and La Cienega Boulevard, Sundays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.