Pasadena is a pretty good place to live if you're a farmers market junkie: The Saturday morning market at Victory Park is terrific, and the Thursday evening market in South Pasadena is probably the best evening market in Los Angeles. As of yesterday, things got even better, with the opening of a lovely certified Sunday morning market. The Old Pasadena farmers market opened Aug. 4, and will run Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. year-round. It's not a huge market but it's very carefully curated, has many free parking options and is conveniently located just a few blocks north of Old Town. (Yes, you can walk to Intelligentsia, which opens at 7 a.m. on Sundays.)
A good farmers market requires a bit of finessing, maybe more than most people realize. You need a balance of produce vendors -- ideally including a few of those that some of us follow from market to market like groupies -- plus some good prepared-food vendors, although not so many that they overwhelm the produce. You're here for Santa Rosas and tatsoi; you're not at a county fair. And you'll want to include things like stellar baked goods, cut flowers, maybe a fishmonger and a tamale stand. The Southland Farmers Market Association and the Old Pasadena Management District, with the support of many local businesses, have managed to do exactly that here.
Although this farmers market was about seven years in the planning, it pretty much came together only in the last month, said Suzanne Marks and Janet Swartz of the Old Pasadena Management District, who were both at the market yesterday, handing out free cloth market bags to the abundant crowds. And although they didn't really want to debut the market in August -- normally a very hot month, although for some reason it hasn't been so far -- they realized, as one could say about many things, that sometimes you just open when you can.
Yesterday the market had 45 booths set up along Holly Street, including Tenerelli Orchards, which had stunning peaches, nectarines, pluots and plums; Underwood Family Farms; Etheridge Farms; mushroom specialists L.A. FungHi; Murray Family Farms, with organic stone fruit; and Pagnol Boulanger's bread, including some lovely ryes. You could smell the glorious aromas from Glendora-based World Flavorz Spice & Tea Co., whose stall had bowls of teas, peppercorns, curries and other spices spread out like a Turkish bazaar. Nearby, M.Greenwood's table displayed extraordinarily pretty Mason jars filled with jams. And Mom's Specialty Foods, a Middle Eastern foods business from Orange, brought breads and tubs of hummus and spreads and tzatziki.
Marks says there will be more vendors, and that current and future vendors will switch out according to the seasonality of what they bring to the market. The market, which is open year-round, also accepts credit and debit cards ($10 minimum; $1 fee). There's ample free parking on the surrounding streets and in city parking structures, and there's a Metro Gold Line stop a block away.
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