FARMERS MARKET REPORT: WEEK OF AUGUST 9, 2009

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LABOR OF LOVE

The Santa Monica Farmers Market is a landmark and a benchmark.  It is one of the largest and original certified farmers markets in the state of California.  It is steeped in history and gleaning from the culture of farming.  On any given Wednesday morning, as the sweet salty ocean air breezes into Arizona Street and Second, truckloads of fresh harvests arrive, farmers in tow, bringing the rich scent of fertile soil and humble origins.  Farmers from near and far  rise far before dawn, put on their muddied boots and make the drive to the market to financially sustain their farms.  Selling directly to earn $1 for a bunch of carrots versus $1 for a box of carrots is essentially the core of the farmers market.  Selling at the market is a gamble.  To avoid the temptation of going the commercial route in California’s mild climate takes guts.  Farmers spend their years gambling on crops against the elements, whether they are natural or man-made.  Some lose land to eminent domain or are simply uprooted as the land they lease gets sold to urban developers.  Once a vast agricultural landscape, farms are mere pin dots on a map.  But these farmers make it work as it is their work, their life, their passions.  It is inherent in their souls.  They grow food for their families and for families across our state.   They are stewards of the land bringing miracles to the market in the form of food.  It is not for the faint of heart.  It is a labor of love represented by some 180 seasonal and year-round farmers, a combined total of more than eight thousand acres of farmland and over four thousand years of farming experience.  Respect…

SHELLING BEANS~

Available this week: Cannellini Beans! Purple-Hulled Pink Eyes, Flageolets and limited number of Lima Beans

Purple-hulled Pink Eyes
Rich, sweet earthy and complex, unique and delicious, a stand-out bean with a short two-month season.

Cannelini Beans – rich, creamy and yet firm – great flavor absorber!  A yellowing Cannelini pod indicates maturity.

Flageolet Beans– McGrath Family Farms – Creamy and firm in texture, these beans, unlike other shelling beans do not typically require soaking.

Lima Beans – McGrath Family Farms – mild, mellow and creamy; often referred to as a “butter bean”.

INTRODUCING!!!!

New to the season and new to the farmers market!
Hass Avocados – These organic avocados are picked fresh in Jamul, CA arriving hot off the tree every Wednesday a.m.

Rangpur Limes – Rancho Del Sol – technically not a true lime, but a tangerine relative, when ripe both the skin and flesh turn orange. HTe flesh is juicy and sour, great for sauces and drinks!

Butter Lettuce (hydroponic!) – Yasutomi Farms has produced a beautiful variety that any butter lettuce or baby lettuce lover will be quick to gravitate toward.  Packaged in two “heads” to a bunch.

Cannelini Beans – Although no explanation is necessary for these well-known beans, two words:  rich, creamy….

PUDWILL FARMS: BERRIES!!!!!

More unique to American soil are the black and red currants. Not so unique to Pudwill Farms. They are in season and out of sight!! The black are sweet and tart while the red are a little more sweet than tart – great for cutting through richer meats or as a refresher between courses.
Golden Raspberries – If I were allowed to use the acronym, OMG, I would use it right here.

Blueberries – These are magically superb, plump with full berry flavor.

Orange Raspberries – Available this week: candy for the eyes and mouth!

Blackberries – scrumptiously delicious!!!

Black Currants – Musky aroma gives way to a pucker-up tartness and slight sweetness. This tart, short-seasoned berry prefers the help of sugar and the richness of fat to bring out its best characteristics.

Red Currants – the tamer and smaller currant – a little sweet tart if you will…

RANCHO DEL SOL: CERTIFIED ORGANIC AND LOCAL! JAMUL, CA

A visit to Rancho Del Sol was almost more dizzying than a tour of the market.  40 acres, two golf carts, peacocks, lamas, bunnies, horses and more citrus trees than you could shake a stick at reads like a novel and yet their is nothing novel or short of amazing going on at Rancho Del Sol.  next week, I will share more about that experience, so stay tuned…
Bill and Linda Zaiser are exercising their agricultural flair on a 36-acre ranch in Jamul, where citrus became their signature in the 1980’s. Their cash crop was the not-so-fashionable-yet blood oranges that almost 30 years later are now a Southern California ubiquety. Today they grow specialty citruses, melons, cucumbers, squashes and more. The artist in Linda thrives in her agricultural creations: an early butternut squash, blending winter and summer into one and an oblong brilliant orange variegated lemon cucumbers of Chinese descent, just a couple of examples of Rancho Del Sol’s unique array of fruitful offerings. Their summer harvest includes extremly rare and unique melons and cucumbers and oodles of squash varieties that serve as bumper crops for their prolific fall harvest of exotic citrus varieties including sorrento lemons, kishu, yuzu, limequats, buddah’s hand and more!!
Chinese Squash – This is an amazing squash, cooks up sweet with an almost bright orange flesh – I’m loving it and so will you! Available in 1-2 lb squash that is so much more than meets the eye!!

Tigger Melon – a petite and sweet melon with deep burnt orange variegated skin and a creamy white flesh that tastes like a honeydew-cantaloupe blend. I’m loving it!

Chinese Lemon Cucumber – This Chinese yellow is green when it is young transforming into an oval shaped cucumber that has beautiful striking lemon-orange variegated (non-bitter) skin with an apple-crisp white flesh, mild yet cucumber-true. Subtle hints of lemony flavor are revealed once the cucumber is ripened. When this variety ages its stripes fade.

Look for more of their produce below!!!!!!

COASTAL ORGANICS – PREMIUM SQUASHES AND SWEET TOMATOES!

COASTAL SQUASHES ARE AVAILABLE THIS WEEK IN THE BABY SUMMER MIX, BABY PATTY PAN (SUNBURSTS ) AND BABY EIGHT BALLS!!!
Coastal Organics is hitting their prime this summer with unequivocally beautiful and delicious squash varieties and petit and sweet tomatoes that make your heart and mouth melt almost simultaneously. Their organic farm delivers harvests of baby crops as a trademark, but don’t think it is done without sacrifice. Harvesting baby crops is more labor-intensive and produces far less yields, which means round-the-clock agricultural care and a contract with Mother nature that can bring uncertainty, nerves and yet, more often sheer brilliance.
Heirloom Tomato Mix – These heirlooms are hand-packed the day before they are sold at the market. Each tomato is perfectly ripe in color and flavor or they are simply not picked. A perfect blend containing a myriad of colors and tastes, the flavors range from sweet, smoky, melony, rich and tomato-true. Unbelievable tomatoes…

Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes – let’s just say the seeds are a “family secret” that Maryann Carpenter is not revealing to…anyone! Secrets never tasted so gooood!

Sun Gold Tomatoes – Maryann Carpenter swears by these bright orange sun-kissed beauties! They are a market stand-out and sell-out week after week. Their sun-kissed skins are proof that sweetness lies just beneath the surface*

WEISER FAMILY FARMS – Melons..

Cavaillon Melons – The esteemed French favorite is back! When the Cavaillon is ripe the skin turns a cream color, the ribbed stripes change to darker green and the stem begins to crack and pulls off easily. Fragrant and quite sweet!

Butterscotch Melons – These small melons have a pale green skin and a two-toned green and orange flesh. Many people think the flesh tastes like butterscotch candy because it is so sweet, which is where the name comes from. Ripe melons are paler in color with a sweet sugary aroma.

ENTERING (LOTS OF NEW STUFF):

Padron Chile Peppers from Happy Quail Farms!! If you have never utilized the padrons before, take advantage of their fast-saute easiness and sweet, smoky peppery flavor. Awesome appetizer!

Pimento Chiles

Blueberries, Raspberries, Currants and Blackberries from Pudwill Farms

Black Mission Figs from Pudwill Farms

Cranberry
Gapping!!!!!!! next harvest To Be Announced!

Persian Beans – Gapping!! Next harvest TBA!

Red Bok Choy from Coleman Farms! – Also known as Red Violet Tatsoi Hybrid, this is a unique bok choy vartiety The shiny leaves range in color from red-violet to dark purple, and they hold their color well even in the summer heat, although this variety also tolerates colder temperatures. Lightly textured, the spoon-shaped leaves have a mild mustard flavor.

Thai Basil – from Coleman Farms; “Siam Queen” has a delicious, spicy sweet flavor with a licorice basil aroma. It is

New Cippolini Onion Mix from Windrose Farms – This is a mix of two very distinct and classic cipollini onions. The white is a Borrettana and the red, Genovese. The Borettana is the shape of a slightly ballooned button with a near transluscent finish, the flavor – mild and sweet. The Red Genovese is a little more rounded but still a button variety. It has a succulent flesh and extremely sweet flavor.

Zucchin Butternut Squash (HYBRID of Summer and Winter!) from Rancho Del Sol – It offfers the best of both seasons, unique delicious and a must try!

Duck Eggs – from Ramona Duck Farms!!

Walnuts – grown in the Santa Rita Hills at Rancho La Viña; these are addictive!!!

COASTAL SQUASHES ARE AVAILABLE THIS WEEK IN THE BABY SUMMER MIX, BABY PATTY PAN (SUNBURSTS ) AND BABY EIGHT BALLS!!!
Mandarin Oranges from Rancho del Sol – extremely sweet and so easy to peel it has been dubbed the “kid gloves” orange. , White Corn from Gloria Tamai Farms (sweet and ready for the grill!), Pimento and Lipstick Chile Peppers, Pineapple tomatoes from Beylik Farms, Heirloom Cherokee Tomatoes from Tutti Frutti, Tigger Melons, Passport Melons, Boule D’or Melons, Lemon Cucumbers and Soyu Cucumbers from Rancho Del Sol, Zephyr Squash from McGrath Family Farms, Meyer Lemons and Encore Tangerines from Garcia Organics, Heirloom Tomatoes from Coastal Organics!, Yellow Nectarines, WHITE Nectarines (candy!) and Yellow Peaches from Fitzgerald Farms, Green Onion Chives and Miners Lettuce from Yasutomi Farm, Pink Variegated Lemons from J.J.’s Lone Daughter Ranch (look for some uber-unique kumquats and kaffir limes!!), Rustic Arugula and from Windrose Farm, Padron Chile Peppers and Ron Burgundy Fingerling Potatoes from Weiser Famly Farms. If you are still reading this and you have yet to experience the fermented pungency of the newest wave in garlic, try this!! It is amazing, different, addictive and will absolutely change your perception of garlic again. Black garlic is cultivated and harvested right here in California and it is waiting to allure you…

Fiesole (Baby Purple) Artichokes from Life’s A Choke

Semi-Savoy Spinach from Rutiz Farms

Gapping: Persian and Cranberry Shelling Beans, Bloomsdale Spinach from Weiser Family Farms and several radish varieties from Jaime Farms – each week check back as they farmers check their progress daily. One day they are in the ground an dthe next day..they could be out!
Exiting: Jerry’s Berries, Firecracker Lettuce, Cara Cara Oranges, Sugar Snap Peas, Encore Tangerines, French Leeks, Green Garlic, Meiwa Kumquats, Paige Tangerines, Tom’s Terrific Tangerines and Gold Nuggets from Garcia Organics, Black Kale, Baby Turnips (Coastal Organics) and Watermelon Radishes from Mcgrath Farms.

MARKET TOUR:

White Corn from Gloria Tamai Farms: tender pale white kernels so sweet you’ll forget another color of corn exists…

Chinese Squash – from Rancho Del Sol. This is an amazing squash, cooks up sweet with an almost bright orange flesh – I’m loving it and so will you!

Zephyr Squash – from McGrath Family Farms, limited quantities, sells out fast – pre-order!!!

Miners Lettuce – from Yasutomi Farms. Hydroponically grown European Heirloom seed with mild and sweet flavors. Nobody else is growing this and it is amazing!

Baby Heirloom Eggplants – from Jaime farms: hybrid mix of baby varieties such as Japanese, Italian, Varieagted, Thai, White, Finger – amazing presentation and flavor!

Heirloom Tomato Variety – from Tutti Frutti Farms

Pirella Lettuce from Coleman Farms

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

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 am still in love with this hefty. Great pre-heirloom season variety nicknamed the “Tough Boy” for its heat-resilient texture and succulence!





Beylik Family Farms – Fillmore, CA

Lipstick Peppers

Pimento Chiles –

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!
Pineapple Tomatoes – awesome through and through! Low-acid, beautifiul color variegation, hold up well for an heirloom!

Coastal Organics – Oxnard, CA

COASTAL SQUASHES ARE TAKING A GROWING BREAK FOR TWO WEEKS! GULP! There may be a small batch of baby summer mix available. Waiting for final update…
Baby Summer Squash Mix– a variety of Ronde Nice, 8-Ball, Green & Gold Zucchini, Sunburst (a.k.a gold patty pan) and Middle Eastern. You can also order individual squash varieties.

Baby Sunburst Squash – patty pans that are cute, small, crunchy and ORGANIC!

Eight Ball Squash

Middle Eastern Squash

Green Zucchini Squash

Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes – let’s just say the seeds are a “family secret” that Maryann Carpenter is not revealing to…anyone! Secrets never tasted so gooood!

Sun Gold Tomatoes –

Blue Lake Beans

Coleman Family Farm – Carpinteria, CA

Pirella Lettuce – My new favorite! Perfect for summer, mild-flavored limestone variety originally developed in Kentucky to withstand the heat!

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 – this is an amazing green! Gorgeous, green and red and a hearty crunchy leaf.

Radicchio – note: small heads! Perfect for plate garnishes. Best Radicchio ever!
Thai Basil – “Siam Queen” has a delicious, spicy sweet flavor with a licorice basil aroma. It is

Red Bok Choy –

Fitzgerald Farms

Yellow 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!
White Peaches – Sweet, through and through, a perfect salad or dessert peach!
Yellow Nectarines – Sweet and slightly acidic. The perfect nectarine!

Garcia Organic Farm – Fallbrook, CA

Meyer Lemons – softer skin, brilliant, lemon orange sun-kissed color, sweet candied lemon scent and flavor!
Encore Tangerines – candy-sweet, bumpy skin is an easy peel and nearly seedless. I love ’em!!!

Gloria Tamai Farms, Oxnard, CA

White Corn – tender pale white kernels so sweet you’ll forget another color of corn exists…

Harry’s Berries – Oxnard, CA

Strawberries – Seascape variety, deep ruby red with a vibrant yet sweet flavor appeal!
“Sweetheart” Baby Roma Tomatoes – pricy, sweet, delicious, addictive! and worth every penny, nickel, dime and dollar!




Jaime Farm – Ontario, CA

Mixed Baby Bunch Carrots – beautiful baby yellow, orange, red, and purple haze carrots with tops
Baby Heirloom Eggplants – hybrid mix of baby varieties such as Japanese, Italian, Varieagted, Thai, White, Finger – amazing presentation and flavor!

Spanish Radishes – large pale fuchsia colored unique radish that is both peppery and sweet! GAPPING!

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! GAPPING!!!
Easter Egg Radish – gapping! mild, snappy flavor, vibrant color bouquet of pinks, reds and white.
Icicle Radish – gapping! looks like a white carrot (except the leaves)! Rich spicy flavor can be smoothed out with a little saute and butter!
Baby French Breakfast Radishes – tender on the inside, crispy on the outside heirloom variety that has a pleasant and mild flavor, not to mention tiny and adorable!!
Rainbow Chard – striking colors, hearty leaves. hit or miss availability this season.
Bull’s Blood Beets

Pink Beets
Gold Beets

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

Veriegated Pink Lemons!! – The pink lemon is actually its own variety. It is not a hybrid, rather simply unique to the Eureka lemon family Tart like a true lemon, you must try one for yourself! Remember Pink Lemonade???

LA NOGALERA

Walnuts – grown in the Santa Rita Hills at Rancho La Viña; these are addictive!!!

Life’s A Choke – Lompoc, CA

Baby Anzio Artichokes – a cross between green and purple artichokes, and very meaty!
Baby Purple Artichokes a fruity flavor and a deep wine color that does not fade with cooking. Bred from the violetta de provence, a purple variety native to southern France.
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!

McGrath Family Farm – Camarillo, CA

Zephyr Squash – yellow and green, snappy and small, with a mild, creamy and sweet flesh so good you can eat it fresh!
Wild Arugula – 3 Pound bag – hit or miss in the heat of the summer.
Baby Bunch Candy Beets, Red Beets, Gold Beets
Green Okami Spinach – same spinach as the red without the red variegation.
Cranberry Shelling Beans
Lima Beans

Rainbow Chard

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!

Pudwill Farm – Nipomo, CA

Blueberries and Blackberries

Black Mission Figs

Golden Raspberries – If I were allowed to use the acronym, OMG, I would use it right here.

Raspberry Mix, Red Raspberries

Blackberrries

Black Currants

Red Currants

RANCHO DEL SOL – Jamul, CA

Tigger Melon – a petite and sweet melon with deep burnt orange variegated skin and a creamy white flesh that tastes like a honeydew-cantaloupe blend. I’m loving it!

Passport Melon – A tropical beauty with Israelian origins, full of tropical flavor and beautiful sun-kissed lemon skin and lime green flesh.

Boule D’ Or Melon -French (clearly) honeydew melon

Soyu Chinese Cucumber – Long, burpless, bumpy skin with a stark white flesh – crispy and succulent. Short shelf-life so use ’em if you got ’em!!

Chinese Lemon Cucumber – This Chinese yellow is green when it is young transforming into an oval shaped cucumber that has beautiful striking lemon-orange variegated (non-bitter) skin with an apple-crisp white flesh, mild yet cucumber-true. Subtle hints of lemony flavor are revealed once the cucumber is ripened. When this variety ages its stripes fade.

Zucchin Butternut Squash (HYBRID of Summer and Winter!) from Rancho Del Sol – It offfers the best of both seasons, unique delicious and a must try!

Chinese Squash – This is an amazing squash, cooks up sweet with an almost bright orange flesh – I’m loving it and so will you!

RAMONA DUCK FARM

Duck Eggs – Larger in size than chicken eggs, the whites of duck eggs tend to be a bit thicker and the yolks are a striking yellow. Duck eggs typically have a stronger flavor compared to that of a chicken egg.


Rutiz Farm – Arroyo Grande, CA

Persian Watercress– a unique variety, with a wonderfully spicy-sweet kick
Purslane
Blue Lake Beans
Romano Beans – flat beany, crispy Italian green variety. Perfect summer bean for snap pea lovers.
Savoy Spinach – cut in small clusters of 3-4 leaves – beautiful!!
Romanesco – Jerry grows the perfect-sized heads, nicest ones at the market!
Sierra Gold Poatoes – Russet Skin, Yukon flesh, creamy and petit!
Pickling Cucumber – for pickling!!

Weiser Family Farm – Bakersfield, CA

Padron Chile Peppers – small 1-1/1″ sweet and spicy numbers…
Red Thumb Potatoes – red skinned on the outside, and pretty in pink on the inside
Russian Banana Fingerlings – baker size, but oh so creamy..
Ron’s Burgundy Fingerlings that’s right~there back! variations of red through and through, tender skin, great attractive potato for multiple applications!

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!!
Baby Bermuda Onions – the mother of all SWEET onions, short season, though so appreciate…Now!

Windrose Farms

Spicy Greens Mix -a perfect combination of loose leaf arugula, mizuna and chard! You’ll love it!
Rustic Arugula – loose leaf, frisee style and perfectly peppered!

Torpedo Onions – these really ARE torpedos!! I don’t often put succulent and onion in the same sentence…but I just did..for a reason!
Baby Round Carrots – taste like a carrot and cute as a button! all about presentation with these adorable gumball-sized carrots.
Red Russian Kale

Nero Cavala Kale

Yasutomi Farm – Pico Rivera, CA

Butter Lettuce!!!!!

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!!! It’s an heirloom European seed. It’s perfect!

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