Oyster breakfasts at the Sunday Hollywood Farmers Market are now as normal as hot æbleskivers and menudo, thanks to the Carlsbad Aquafarms booth just north of the Selma and Ivar intersection. And up until recently, those expertly shucked bivalves were only out of the water for mere hours before you popped them into your mouth. That was due in large part to Patrick Down, a specialty vendor hired by Carlsbad Aquafarms to handle their farmers markets sales and marketing.
Down lives a few blocks from the aquafarm, so instead of having the oysters shipped and cold-stored (which is more common), Down would go to the farm, pick up the oysters fresh from the water, and cart them up to Hollywood. Short of standing by the water's edge with an oyster knife, you couldn't get your Carlsbad Blondes or Lunas any fresher.
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Down and his company, Farm Fresh Shellfish, amicably parted ways with Carlsbad Aquafarms about two weeks ago -- but neither has left the Hollywood market. Carlsbad now contracts with Ecosprings, based out of Santa Monica, to handle their market sales (be sure to say hello to Christophe Happillion, their new Hollywood market vendor).
And Down has set up shop in the south section of the market with a mix of both in- and out-of-state shellfish, including Kumamotos (CA), Kusshis (BC), Fanny Bays (BC), and Endless Summers (CA). The shellfish at both Carlsbad Aquafarms and Farm Fresh are still very fresh (about two days for Carlsbad, about two or three for Farm Fresh, depending on where the variety came from), but the days of four-hour old Blondes laced with a touch of ponzu and lemon juice are unhappily a thing of the past. The trade off? Two high quality oyster vendors shucking at $2 per, in effect doubling the selection in one of the region's finest farmers markets. Darn.