January 18, 2013 |
FALLBROOK - Jim Russell's macadamia orchard looks like a park, 3 acres of holly-like evergreens growing above closely cropped grass. A casual observer would never suspect that it represents a relic of a bygone boom, a source of uniquely delicious nuts and one man's triumph over paralysis. Macadamias are native to eastern Australia, where there are two edible species: integrifolia in warmer areas and tetraphylla in cooler. The kind brought to Hawaii in 1881, and first commercialized there, was integrifolia , which proved most productive and suitable for roasting.
January 11, 2013 |
DE LUZ - High on a hill overlooking an idyllic vista of citrus, avocados and chaparral, Bill Vogel spied a tree loaded with an unexpected bounty and started to holler. "Holy moly, look at all these starfruit," he said, cradling a cluster of ripening greenish-yellow fruit. "What's going on? I got a second crop and didn't know it. " Such are the occasional delights of pushing the envelope growing exotic fruits, which Vogel, 65, has been doing since 2000, when he started buying property in this pristine agricultural community at the southern end of the Santa Ana Mountains.
December 29, 2012 |
Although summer claims many of the sexiest, most attention-grabbing vegetables, such as eggplants, tomatoes, peppers and zucchini, in Southern California the vegetables that thrive in winter are equally abundant and alluring. Roots, crucifers and peas may be available year-round, but winter is their time to shine. In the spirit of the many award ceremonies held in this season, here are some of my favorite early winter vegetables and producers who do an extraordinary job with them, based on notes, photos and tastings over the last 14 years.
December 21, 2012 |
Mandarins at their best are the noblest of citrus, with intense, complex aromatics and fascinating varietal identities. Two clementine-tangelo crosses prized for their rich flavor, Page and Lee, are now in peak season and well worth searching out. Page long been a favorite at farmers markets, and recently commercial growers have caught on and planted them on a larger scale. Its half-sister, Lee, is rare in California but arguably has even more extraordinary flavor. Page originated in Florida in 1942 as a cross of Algerian clementine and Minneola tangelo and was introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1963.
December 14, 2012 |
The great advantage of Southern California farmers markets - year-round availability of fresh, local produce - can sometimes backfire by obscuring the seasonal rhythm of crops and growing areas. For example, carrots, grapefruits, nuts and avocados are always available from somewhere but not always at their best; it's up to shoppers to learn the difference. Grown from the Mexico to the Oregon borders, carrots often look good but are starchy and vegetal in summer; the tenderest, crispest, sweetest ones come in winter, when the roots naturally accumulate nutrients.
December 5, 2012 |
After moving to Los Angeles from his native New York eight years ago, writer-director Marshall Lewy spent many weekends hanging out at his neighborhood farmers market in Silver Lake. He became intrigued by the idea of a sprawling metropolis where farmers markets come to life, bringing in fresh produce and unusual characters from farms that surround the nation's second-largest city. The experience planted the seed for "California Solo," an independent movie about a former British pop rocker played by Scottish actor Robert Carlyle ("Trainspotting" and "The Full Monty")
November 30, 2012 |
At their best, clementines are among the finest of citrus fruits, easy to peel, seedless, with firm but juicy flesh and a rich, well-balanced flavor. However, they can vary dramatically in quality, depending on the exact variety, the season, where they're grown, how they're grown and how they're packed and stored. For anyone who has fallen in love with this fruit only to be disappointed later, it is worth understanding these factors before shopping, whether at grocery stores or at farmers markets.
November 17, 2012 |
OROSI, Calif. - Easy to peel and nearly seedless, with tender flesh and tangy mandarin flavor, satsumas are one of the most popular farmers market fruits around Thanksgiving. Farmers like them too, especially growers in cold, low-lying areas, because they ripen early, before frosts usually strike, and the tree is exceptionally cold-hardy for citrus. Satsumas do need some chill to develop full color and sweetness, however, and because of the unusually hot fall, the current harvest started a week or two late.
November 9, 2012 |
While farmers markets have proliferated in recent years, demand for fresh, local, seasonal produce has increased even faster. Several types of entrepreneurs have arisen to satisfy this demand, including specialty produce distributors, shopping services and stores that emulate the farmers market experience, such as Atwater Village Farm . One intriguing variation is the Produce Project, which buys from farmers markets and sells at "pop-up farm...
November 3, 2012 |
Wearing round glasses, a buttoned vest and blue wingtip oxfords, Shaheen Sadeghi can't walk down Anaheim's Center Street Promenade without being greeted by every shop owner on this three-block stretch of newly opened restaurants and boutiques. He's the developer who transformed what was once a row of lackluster office buildings into his vision of retro-American retail opportunity, complete with all the telltales of new urbanism: baroque logos, penny tiles, wainscoting and Rockwellian facades.