The Wednesday Santa Monica farmers market is a very fun place, between the streets filled with farmers' stands and the enormous variety of fresh produce and the marine layer blowing in from the ocean only a block away. It's also a great spot to run into chefs, as so many of them come out to shop, to meet fellow chefs, to chat with farmers and, depending on the chef, trail journalists and television crews. (Mario Batali, for example, whom I've run into more often at the market, when he's in town, than at Mozza.) This morning there were chefs from Anisette and The Bazaar–to name just the ones I saw–picking up produce and generally getting inspired.
At Windrose Farm, Barbara Spencer's tables were filled with tomatillos and Siberian crab apples. The apples are specialty items, used to make jellies and to roast and to pickle. The tomatillos, which Spencer grows from seeds, have maybe a month left, “at least until the frost,” said Spencer.
Down the street at the Life's A Choke stand, there were rows of asparagus, baby purple artichokes and squash blossoms, all of which the Lompoc farm grows year-round. At Briarpatch Farm, from Kingsburg in Fresno County, the tables were filled with piles of Chinese red long beans, which the farm will have until the end of October, probably, “until it gets cold.”
And at Clearwater Farms, there were shiitakes, lobster mushrooms and gorgeous chanterelles. “This is the third week,” said Clearwater's Carl Oldnettle (what a fantastic name) of the chanterelles, which they get from northern California, near the Oregon coast. Oldnettle says they'll be in season, depending on the weather, until about Thanksgiving. (Another month for the lobsters; the shiitakes are year-round.)
The tables at Tenerelli Orchards, which is in Littlerock, were filled with O'Henry peaches. The stunningly pretty fruit is in its last week, so if you're at one of the many farmers markets that Tenerelli goes to this weekend (that would be most of them), maybe pick some up.
Santa Monica farmers market: Wednesdays, corner of Arizona and 2nd; 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
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