November 28, 2007 |
Parsnips: Why is it that people go crazy for carrots but ignore parsnips? They're among the sweetest of the root vegetables, particularly after they've gone through the first frost. With the first deep chill, enzymes in the root begin converting stored starches into the sugar the plant will need come spring -- it's the vegetable equivalent of transferring money from savings into checking.
June 30, 1999 |
The spirited crowing of Bruce the rooster, the mascot of the Kendor egg farm of Van Nuys, serenades visitors to the Encino Farmers Market, the largest one in the San Fernando Valley. Customers were crowing too Sunday when they tasted samples of the Honey Crisp stand's luscious Snow Queen white nectarines, speckled by sugar spots, with a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity, and intense, lingering flavor.
May 31, 2006 |
Peak season New potatoes: Many people generically refer to any small potato as "new," but there's a lot more to it than that. Truly new potatoes are those that have been freshly dug and brought to market without curing. After harvest, most potatoes are stored for up to a couple of weeks to set the peel and heal any nicks or cuts, allowing them to last longer. Without this step, new potatoes are moister and seem sweeter, though with a slight, appealingly minerally bitterness in the finish.
August 23, 2006 |
Just in Thompson Seedless grapes: Choose Thompson Seedless grapes when they're golden, almost amber, and you'll be surprised at how floral and sophisticated their flavor can be. At one time, Thompsons were the No. 1 table grape, raisin grape and wine grape in California. Today, Thompsons still rule the raisin business, but with fresh grapes, the competition is catching up (most notably the Flame Crimson, which is pretty simple in flavor, sweet and crunchy).
February 10, 1999 |
At first glance, a recent Monday at the West Hollywood Farmers' Market was no different from any other Monday. Customers crowded close to the egg man from Gama Farms, listening intently as he explained the difference between brown and white eggs. Others scanned the Red Rose potatoes from Weiser Family Farms before making their selections at 50 cents a pound.
June 25, 2008 |
Just in Persian mulberries: Quite frankly, they often don't look like a fruit so sought-after that farmers have to hide them behind the counter. They can be fairly small, like malnourished raspberries, and so fragile that they frequently look a little dinged up from being picked. But Persian mulberries have an intoxicating effect on some people. A friend tasting her first one clapped her hand to her mouth and exclaimed, "This tastes like my grandfather's garden!"
June 5, 2002 |
The heat's on in the San Joaquin Valley, and after a month of so-so "season-starter" stone fruit, better varieties are arriving every week. Apricots, Pluots, Apriums and white peaches were all in abundance at the Thursday Westwood farmers market. For Pluots, try Flavorosas like those grown by Robert Mizuno of Reedley. They have sweet, juicy red flesh and a touch of astringency in the skin. Apriums are another plum-apricot hybrid, this time with the accent on the apricot.
June 28, 2000 |
The Thousand Oaks farmers market, the largest in Ventura County, offers an excellent selection of growers, with a clear emphasis, as it should be, on local produce. Thursday, Vince Ditomasso sold giant green-skinned figs with luscious amber pulp, grown in the Santa Rosa Valley, five miles north of the city. These "breba-crop" figs, which ripen a month or two before the main crop, were of an unusual variety, Kallom, brought from Italy by Ditomasso's cousin.
September 26, 2007 |
Last Chance Fresh Dates: Granted, we're pretty spoiled about dates at Southern California farmers markets. The stuff most of the country knows -- rock-hard little pebbles -- just don't pass muster here. Even the driest of the dates we get would be considered incomparably moist anywhere else. But there's fresh, and then there's fresh. For a brief span in late summer/early fall, you'll see market stalls adorned with strings of dates still on their stems. These take a little getting used to.
July 18, 2001 |
If the offerings at the Cerritos farmers market seem impressive for a 2-month-old event, that may be because it's not entirely new: It's the successor to the 18-year-old Saturday Long Beach market at Wardlow Road and Norwalk Boulevard (which closed but has just been revived as a Wednesday market).