The month of September has a bit of an identity crisis. It's hot. It's mild. It's full of fire. It gets more chilly in the morning and evening--but then the Santa Anas kick in. Meteorological autumn begins September 1st and astronomical autumn shuffles its feet until September 15th. And in L.A., let's face it, traditional seasonal definitions simply do not apply anyway.
What you will see at the markets in the coming weeks will reflect that indecision. It's neither fall nor summer, but a weird transitional moment in market time when you can pick up both sweet summer corn and seedy pomegranates. If you are a strictly seasonal eater, this can be a really amusing culinary fulcrum.
The early pears have started showing up at the markets. The Bartlett isn't fond of cold weather, which is why we see it so early here. They are still a bit hard (they usually pick them green), but left on the counter out of sunlight, they sunset into a golden, blushy yellow and become so butter soft that you can slice them with your finger. The sugar is wet and fruity, making them great for juicing or setting up in a nice pear jelly.
Apple pie lovers can start their ovens--the Granny Smiths are here. Tart and almost annoyingly crisp, the Granny Smith does better in milder climates like Southern California. When you think of 'green apple' flavor, it's probably the Granny Smith that bounces into your memory. Use all the cliché terms - heirloom, classic, archetypal, traditional--they all apply to the Granny Smith, especially when cooked down into homemade apple butter. We use the old Joy of Cooking recipe standby. A simple apple galette for one with homemade ice cream would also be a nice send off to summer.
Pasadena Farmers Market, Victory Park, North Sierra Madre Boulevard and Paloma Street, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Torrance Farmers Market, Wilson Park, 2200 Crenshaw Blvd., 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
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Old Town Calabasas Farmers Market, 23504 Calabasas Rd., 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Long Beach Saturday Market (East Village), 400 East 1st Street, on 1st Between Elm and Linden, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Santa Monica (Saturday, organic), 3rd Street at Arizona Avenue, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Felicia Friesema also writes More, please.