Even if you're not an Allman Brothers fan, this is the time to be eating peaches–out of hand, in cobblers and pies, over ice cream, while spinning 37 year-old records. At the Venice farmers market this morning (open at 7 a.m., the marine layer like a low heaven), Tenerelli Orchards' tables were filled with yellow Elegant Lady and white Sugar Lady peaches; white Ruby Pearl and yellow Red Diamond nectarines; and between them, like Lewis Carroll's idea of a basket of grapes, Black Amber plums, which were getting snatched up when shoppers heard that it would be the last day for the fruit.
John Tenerelli has 25 varieties of peaches, and he's only picked four. “We have the latest-ripening peaches in the country,” Tenerelli says of California. “This is just the end of the early stuff; Autumn Lady goes into November.” Lucky for us.
Tenerelli Orchards is in Littlerock, on about 55 acres, a 35-year old farm that includes 13 small orchards, “all within two blocks of my mother's house,” says Tenerelli. “We got into the farmers markets when they first opened, '78 or something. Back then people would wait in line to buy peaches.”
This season has been a hard one. “We lost 1/3 of everything to a frost in March; it's been a tough year.” But maybe because of the vicissitudes of this year's weather–an early frost, a heat wave–the peaches Tenerelli has left have fantastic flavor. “The fruit's really sweet this year.”
Tenerelli Orchards goes to 21 markets in Southern California, including the following: Wednesday, Santa Monica; Friday, Venice; Saturday, Burbank and Beverly Hills; Sunday, Studio City; and Tuesday, Torrance. For a list of Los Angeles farmers markets with their addresses and hours, check the LA Times food section's comprehensive, updated list.