Farmers' Market Report: Week of May 24, 2009

Pluots and Cherries from Scott Farms Santa Monica FM
Pluots and Cherries from Scott Farms Santa Monica FM

REALITY CHECK:

Today, more than 6 billion people rely on food grown on merely 11 percent of the global land surface.  Only a scant 3 percent of the earth’s surface is inherently fertile soil.  Soil degradation and erosion are transforming productive land into wasteland at tragic speeds.  “The history of every nation”  President Franklin Roosevelt said, “is eventually written in the way in which it cared for its soil.”
Enough said.
~Melissa

MARKET REVIEW:

After a tour de market, I was again overwhelmed with the sights, sounds and smells of the bustling exchange of goods between farmers and their community. Stone fruits were everywhere:  pluots, apriums, yellow peaches and nectarines, bing and ranier cherries.  Squashes are hitting the scene in their more infant stages, as well as eggplants and cherry heirloom tomatoes.  In the coming weeks (and months) summer harvest will be hitting us full force and our menus will finally exude what we all have been waiting for.  Memorial Day has beckoned the call of grilling vegetables and even fruits and nature has answered the call in timely fashion.  Spring onions are giving way to summer as they bolt into a new season and new form, as are shallot shoots becoming..well, shallots. Gem lettuces have seen their last legs and will reappear again in October when the heat has little control over their destiny.  Other lettuce varieties such as freckles and red piret will be around as long as they resist the urge to bolt, which will not happen sooner than August.  Monday marks the unofficial kickoff to summer, so put your summer menus together and consider all of your options, as there are a plethora of them!
Entering: Pluots from Scott Farms, Summer Baby Squash Mix from Coastal Organics, Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Shunkyo Radishes and Black Plum Tomatoes from Jaime Farms, Apriums, Yellow Nectarines and Debutant Peaches from Fitzgerald Farms, Cherries from Simms Cherry Farm, Baby Green Artichokes from Life’s a Choke, Green Onion Chives from Yasutomi Farm, Pink Variegated Lemons, Meyer Lemons and Murcott Tangerines from Garcia Organics, Russian Red Kale and Spicy Mix (Arugula, Mizuna and Chard) from Windrose Farm, and All Blues Potatoes from Weiser Famly Farms. Look out for Valdivia Farms on our upcoming reports. They have been a mainstay of Specialty Produce as well as the Santa Monica Farmers Market. We will be featuring their seasonal produce as it is some of the finest on the market not only in Santa Monica but in all of California. They have beautiful micro patty pans and squash blossoms as well as the most prestine baby white turnip bunches I have ever seen.
Back on track: Fiesole Artichokes from Life’s A Choke, Stinging Nettles and Dandelion Greens from Coleman Family Farms
Gapping: Bloomsdale Spinach from Weiser Family Farms
Exiting: Meiwa Kumquats, Paige Tangerines and Gold Nuggets from Garcia Organics, Black Kale, Baby Turnips (Coastal Organics) and Watermelon Radishes from Mcgrath Farms
Hard work and commitment are at the heart of our farmers’ success and their passion drives its livelihood. Thank you for your continued support and excitement for the truest of products available to all of us.
Final Note: Chefs are buzzing over the market, a couple have made the trip recently and many have requested taking a special trip to Santa Monica to experience it for themselves. It is sometimes indescribable just how awesome the market is in person. Taking oneself out of the kitchen and into the playground that is the fertile beginning of both the creative and productive engine can be inspiring and encouraging beyond belief and more often than not, just what the doctor ordered!
Happy Memorial Day!
Check back for an iphone slideshow of my market visit this week!!

MARKET TOUR:

It is still May and that means it is still Artichoke month!!
And I repeat:  Artichokes abound at the market and no grower produces meatier, flavorful and presentable and 100% delicious artichokes than Daisy at Life’s A Choke Farms. If you have yet to try the giant Lyon or Baby Green varieties there is no time like the present!
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!!

Tulare Cherries – from Simms Cherry Farms – much like a bing and perfectly sweet!

Debutant Peaches – from Fitzgerald Farms.  Sugar and acid strike the perfect balance making this the perfect peach!

Shunkyo Radishes – Shaped like a baby pink carrot: one moment it’s hot, the next it is sweet! My personal favorite!

Baby Summer Squash Mix– from Coastal Organics:  a variety of Ronde Nice, 8-Ball, Green & Gold Zucchini, Sunburst (a.k.a gold patty pan) and Middle Eastern.

Persian Watercress – Rutiz Farms, a hot peppery leaf that has been an equally hot seller at the market. Very unique shape and taste!

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!

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



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

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

Red Spring Onions – Weiser Family Farms


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

Baby Summer Squash Mix– a variety of Ronde Nice, 8-Ball, Green & Gold Zucchini, Sunburst (a.k.a gold patty pan) and Middle Eastern.

Coleman Family Farm – Carpinteria, CA

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. Best Radicchio ever!
Dandelion Greens
Stinging Nettles

Fitzgerald Farms

Debutant Peaches – The first peach of the season and it is striking an impeccable balance of acidity and sweetness. Makes for a perfect bite every bite!
Yellow Nectarines – Sweet and slightly acidic.  The perfect nectarine!
Apriums – Hit or miss availability as season is so limited you want to take advantage of it while you can.

Garcia Organic Farm – Fallbrook, CA

Murcott Tangerines taste like a Paige, easier to peel!
Meyer Lemons – softer skin, brilliant, lemon orange sun-kissed color, sweet candied lemon scent and flavor!
Pink Variegated Lemons – Variegated pink and yellow skin, , beautiful pink exterior, tart lemon flavor, great for refreshing garnish.

Harry’s Berries – Oxnard, CA

Strawberries – Seascape variety, deep ruby red with a vibrant yet sweet flavor appeal!

Jaime Farm – Ontario, CA

Mixed Baby Bunch Carrots – beautiful baby yellow, orange, red, and purple haze carrots with tops
Baby White Beets
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.
Chive Blossoms – all the great mild chive flavor with a decorative bonus!! AND The flowers taste great too!
Onion Whistles – 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!
Veriegated Pink Lemons!!

Life’s A Choke – Lompoc, CA

Baby Anzio Artichokes – a cross between green and purple artichokes, and very meaty!
Baby Purple Artichokes
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 Beets, Red Beets, Gold Beets
If you want beets, right now they are beautiful and priced to sell!!!
Fava Tendrils – sweet, soft and meaty flavor, great fish and meat accoutrement!! Last WEEK!
Red Okami Spinach – a uniquely shaped leaf with a deep red stem and veins – great for sauteeing!

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!

Scott Farms

Pluots!  – I have never tasted a better, perfectly juicy pluot before in my life!

Simms Cherry Farm

Tulare Cherries – from Simms Cherry Farms – much like a bing and perfectly sweet!  First picking of the season.  Sweet, dark and delicious.!

Valdivia Farms

Baby White Japanese Turnips
Squash Blossoms
Baby Sunburst Squash
Heirloom Tomatoes!!

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..
All Blues Fingerlings – Similar in color to the purples, a little variegation inside, mild, moist and great cooking potato!

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 – gapping for about a month
Micro Mix Baby Carrots –  gapping for about a month
Red Spring Onions – slimmer stalks and pear shaped bulbs, last few weeks!
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

Russian Red Kale – wow! Big, beautiful and hearty purple and red leaves!
Spicy Greens  Mix -a perfect combination of loose leaf arugula, mizuna and chard!  You’ll love it!

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!
Miners Lettuce – It’s hydroponic!!!

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