Among the most talked-about swaps a few weeks ago with all the food vendor changes at the four Santa Monica Farmers' markets was Valerie Confections taking over at the Saturday downtown/Arizona market where the The BreadMan once held court. And so we checked in with Stan Weightman, Jr., owner Valerie Gordon's partner (in home baking as well as the business side of things), who was manning the new booth on Saturday. Valerie at the Market, as the shop is known outside its chocolate-dipped toffee parent company, began with a booth at the Sunday Hollywood market where seasonal galettes, candied fruits (kumquats, blood oranges), and sandwiches slathered with Gordon's house made jams make regular appearances.
"The point of everything at the market now is to support the farmers, and we really try to do that," says Weightman, noting that the new requirements for setting up a booth in Santa Monica were geared towards local companies, better still those using Santa Monica Farmers' Market ingredients (rather than, say, The BreadMan's commissioned bakery sales). And so those caramelized onion galettes that Weightman was gingerly arranging on sheets of parchment paper in wooden crates are made with Weiser Farms onions and Peacock Farms raisins (get the onion marmalade recipe here).
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What the couple could and could not bake-to-sell was also a highly regulated Santa Monica city affair. "The other thing was [the city] wanted nothing but baked goods, so we couldn't do some of the things we do on Sunday in Hollywood," Weightman says, adding that it has forced the couple to be more creative with their savory offerings like a smoky heirloom tomato galette, Gordon's flaky crust nod to the Caprese salad. No need to panic, the seasonal sweets are still here -- frangipane and strawberry-rhubab tarts, lemon tea cakes, several sweet breads (zucchini bread, carrot cake) and milk chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with Durango smoked salt this past weekend.
One thing you won't find at the Santa Monica booth are the jam "sandwiches" slathered with seasonal jams like the fig and port version she's making for this Saturday's cooking class. Weightman says they fell outside Santa Monica's no prepared foods limitation. Which is somewhat curious, as a couple of slices of bread filled with house-made jam seems hardly much different than a jam-filled Linzer cookie that would presumably be fair game under the baked-goods-only rule. Semantics, half-baked semantics.