FARMERS' MARKET REPORT: WEEK OF MAY 3, 2009

"visually Distressed Apples" at the Santa Monica Farmers Market

MOTHER NATURE:

She has a way of reminding us who really is in charge.  Amid the conversations I have been having with the farmers this week, I got the clear impression that we are at Nature’s mercy.  Crops fail, field’s lose fertility, the heat forces herbs to flower and lettuces to get a sunburn.  While the last paige tangerine falls off the tree, cherries are showing their first true sign of maturity.  Chives are blossoming and all those tomato plants that flowered are now expressing fruitful bounty.  Late winter root vegetables are finally giving way to the spring and the last of the baby carrots have been plucked from the earth…for now…
Farmers work miracles in their fields.  They have a special relationship with Mother Nature that garners the utmost respect.  They are aware that they must work together to keep our land’s fertile offerings abundant and strong.  Farmers understand nature’s seasonal desires and her need to replenish the earth responsibly.  When the time comes to close one door and open another, farmers have already gotten the signal and the new buds are in the ground.  All we have to do is be patient and the seasons will continue to reveal themselves brilliantly.
Happy Artichoke Month!
~Melissa

MARKET UPDATE:

May is here and it is peak artichoke season!  From anzios to baby green artichokes, the small globes with stem to the larger than life Lyons, there is no time like the present to let these ancient thistle plants show off their delicious culinary awesomeness.  Braise, grill, saute and love the outcome!  As for their agricultural contribution, they contribute a hearty amount of cash to the California economy.  99% of artichokes grown in America are grown right here in our state’s soil. Never underestimate an artichoke…
Entering:  Wild Mushrooms from Clearwater Farm!  Baby Green Artichokes from Life’s a Choke, Small Globe Artichokes with Stem from Tutti Frutti, Green Onion Chives from Yasutomi Farm, Radishes, Radishes, Radishes and Black Plum Tomatoes from Jaime Farm, Meyer Lemons, Gold Nuggets and Murcott Tangerines,  from Garcia Organics and Russian Red Kale, French Leeks (slim, sweet and savory all in one!) and Oriental Mix (red and green frill!) from Windrose Farm.
Gapping:  Fiesole Artichokes from Life’s A Choke, Bloomsdale Spinach, Fingerling Mix Potatoes and Baby Carrots from Weiser Farms
Exiting:  Paige Tangerines

MARKET TOUR:

Baby Green Artichokes – round, meaty and mild, more heart than other varieties, as it is simply a tinier version of its larger counterparts that get more sun.  100% edible!

Baby Green Zucchini with Flower – Life’s A Choke Farms inject water into each squash blossom’s stem to ensure their freshness and livelihood.  A wonderful and glamorous spring and summer menu accoutrement!!

Pencil California Asparagus – Skinny, tender, tasty purple-tipped and LOCAL! So thin it cooks in a flash!

Japanese Tomatoes – I just love these meaty tomatoes!  They are the most beautiful tomatoes at the market right now.  Great pre-heirloom season variety nicknamed the “Tough Boy” for its heat-resilient texture and succulence!

Gem Lettuces:  Red and Green from Coastal Organics – these lettuces are unparalleled in their sweetness, rich colors,  crisp textures and succulent leaves

French Leeks from Windrose Farms
Baby White Belly Radish – sweetest radish out there with edible greens too makes these 100% delicious.

Baby Celery – from Yasutomi Farm, more leaves than stalk, hydroponically grown, slender and almost herbaceously tasty stalks.  The best baby celery available. Period.

Meiwa Kumquats

Jerry’s Berries Strawberries (Galante variety) from Rutiz Farm – sweeter than candy!!
Jerry's Berries Strawberries from Rutiz Farm

Red Spring Onions –  Jaime Farm – big juicy bulbs! Great for multiple applications!

Fava Beans from CoastalMcGrath Farms
Fava Beans from Coastal Organics
Tom’s Terrific Tangerines – Polito Family Farm
Tom's Terrific Tangerines

Beylik Family Farms – Fillmore, CA

Persian Cucumbers – petite and crunchy! No seeds=sweet!
Japanese Tomatoes – “Tough Boy” brings hefty flavor, succulence and meatiness.
Yellow Tomatoes – sweet, tangy and heartier than your average yellow tomato!

Coastal Organics – Oxnard, CA

Black Kale– also known as Tuscan kale, black cabbage or cavalo nero!
Fava Beans – beautiful, plump younger and non-starchy perfect beans.
Baby White Turnips – delicate pepper flavor, marble-sized gems!
Gem Lettuces – Green and Red, these are the perfect lettuce.  Sweet, succulent and crispy center.

Coleman Family Farm – Carpinteria, CA

Green Garlic – These are spring super stars!  Use the whites in sauces, on pizzas, sauteed for a steak! The greens are great for soups and stocks!  Once again 100% savorily edible!
Broccoli Spigarello – Leafy broccoli with ALL the broccoli flavor, but more delicate and beautiful!
Red Butter (Piret) Lettuce – you won’t find this anywhere else!  Awesome texture and buttery flavor!
Freckles Lettuce – Freckles! Sweet leaves, crispy inside.  Perfect lettuce carrier for salads!
Lollo Rossa Lettuce – great for mixed salads, beautiful deep purple-red.
Treviso – so young, you’ll barely recognize it. Deep green with a deep blush.
Radicchio – note: small heads! Perfect for plate garnishes.

Garcia Organic Farm – Fallbrook, CA

Meiwa Kumquats – a Japanese variety that has a sweeter pulp than conventional kind.
Gold Nugget Tangerines – sweet, juicy and easy to peel!
Murcott Tangerines

Meyer Lemons

Harry’s Berries – Oxnard, CA

Strawberries – Gaviota variety, deep dark red with a soft and sweet flavor appeal!

Jaime Farm – Ontario, CA

Mixed Baby Bunch Carrots – beautiful baby yellow, orange, red, and purple haze carrots with tops
Baby White Belly Radish – sweetest radish out there with edible greens, too makes these 100% delicious.
Shunkyo Radish – Shaped like a baby pink carrot:  one moment it’s hot, the next it is sweet!  My personal favorite!
Easter Egg Radish – mild, snappy flavor, vibrant color bouquet of pinks, reds and white.
Icicle Radish – looks like a white carrot (except the leaves)!  Rich spicy flavor can be smoothed out with a little saute and butter!
Rainbow Chard – striking colors, hearty leaves.
White Spring Onion – large sized and absolutely beautiful! Attached to hearty, fresh green tops
Red Spring Onion – big juicy bulbs!
Small Zucchini with Flower – great stuffed and sauteed!  You have never seen any squash blossoms like this.  Show-stealers!
Chive Blossoms – all the great mild chive flavor with a decorative bonus!! AND The flowers taste great too!
Garlic Flowers – beautiful buds, large hallow stalks, amazing!  just add water!

J.J.’s Lone Daughter Ranch- Bryn Mawr, CA

Cara Cara Oranges– a grapefruit and navel orange hybrid  gives it its signature salmon colored flesh with all the great sweet juicy orange taste!

Life’s A Choke – Lompoc, CA

Baby Anzio Artichokes – a cross between green and purple artichokes, and very meaty!
Baby Green Zucchini with Flower – Life’s A Choke Farms inject water into each squash blossom’s stem to ensure their freshness and livelihood.  A wonderful and glamorous spring and summer menu accoutrement!!
Lyon Artichoke with stem– large and in charge! This is a very jumbo, round, meaty variety from Southern France that yields a whole lot of heart!!
“California” Pencil Asparagus – Skinny, tender, tasty purple-tipped and LOCAL! So thin it cooks in a flash!
Baby Green Zucchini with Flower – Life’s A Choke Farms inject water into each squash blossom’s stem to ensure their freshness and livelihood.  A wonderful and glamorous spring and summer menu accoutrement!!

McGrath Family Farm – Camarillo, CA

Wild Arugula – 3 Pound bag
Firecracker Lettuce – deep red,  a bit frilly! Great for mixed salads!
Baby Bunch Candy BeetsRed BeetsGold Beets, and White Beets
If you want beets, right now they are beautiful and priced to sell!!!
Baby Watermelon Radish
Fava Tendrils – sweet, soft and meaty flavor, great fish and meat accoutrement!!  Only available for a couple of weeks!!
Red Okami Spinach – a uniquely shaped leaf with a deep red stem and veins – great for sauteeing!
Baby White Japanese Turnips

Mike and Son Egg Ranch – Ontario, CA

Brown Eggs farm fresh eggs that are unequivocally delicious with gleaming yolks! Each egg is individually candled!  (5 doz case only)

Polito Family Farm – Valley Center, CA

Oro Blanco Grapefuit – golden-flesh, sweet and juicy – still going strong!
Tom’s Terrific Tangerines –  juicy squared, easy to peel, and almost seedless – terrifically yummy!!

Rutiz Farm – Arroyo Grande, CA

Sugar Snap Peas – sweet and snappy.  ’nuff said!
Persian Watercress– a unique variety, with a wonderfully spicy-sweet kick
Jerry’s Berries Strawberries– (pre-order only) worth every penny!! A must try strawberry!
Savoy Spinach – cut in small clusters of 3-4 leaves – beautiful!!
Romanesco – Jerry grows the perfect-sized heads, nicest ones at the market!

Weiser Family Farm – Bakersfield, CA

Red Thumb Potatoes – red skinned on the outside, and pretty in pink on the inside
Russian Banana Fingerlings – baker size, but oh so creamy..
French Heirloom Fingerlings – red-skinned, baker-sized and white-fleshed, has a very silky texture ( I love these!!)
La Ratte Fingerlings – nutty flavors, stand out fingerling, one of the best potatoes, ever!!
Mix Baby Carrots – last week, then gapping for about a month
Micro Mix Baby Carrots – last week, then gapping for about a month
Red Spring Onions – slimmer stalks and pear shaped bulbs, very new!
Baby Purple Broccoli – aka Red Arrow Broccoli, which is the specific variety. It’s not purple all the way through, but the green stem and leaves contrast it very nicely. It has a mild flavor and the farmer recommends slicing thinly and serving raw, or do a very quick saute if desired to keep the color!!
White Beets – the big ol’ ones, great for roasting and pairing with other beets for a milder, sweeter flavor
Bloomsdale Spinach – gapping for about 3-4 weeks

Windrose Farms

French Leeks – slender, savory and sweet..oh so french!
Russian Red Kale – wow!  Big, beautiful and hearty purple and red leaves!
Oriental Mix – ha!  You want red and green mustard frill?  Without all the unecessary stems?  This is it!  gorgeous “loose leaf” frill combo ready to spice up your culinary life!

Yasutomi Farm – Pico Rivera, CA

Baby Bok Choy – amazingly tender, great flavor, good for braising and hey, even the grill…
Baby Celery – more leaves than stalk, hydroponically grown, slender and tasty stalks.  The best baby celery available. Period.
Green Onion Chives – mild, sometimes sweet green onion and chive hydroponic hybrid. great shelf-life too!

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