All the big summer market favorites are hitting their stride right now – peaches and other stone fruits, corn, and lordy, the tomatoes. Mountains of each line the market alleys at the Pasadena and Hollywood markets this week and all of them grab your attention with their color and perfume–and those ubiquitous samples. But there are a few varieties of fruits and vegetables coming in that deserve a place at your table.
Kyoho grapes are in their prime season right now. The fruit is like an over-sized marble, inky purple in color, and dotting thick and fibrous stems, usually cradled delicately in white tissue paper to protect their thin, tart skins. If you're a fan of the Concord and other more traditional table and jelly grapes and you haven't tried them yet, the Kyoho may turn into a new favorite.
Kyohos are marketed as a seedless variety, but that's only very early in the season.
Right now they do have small grape seeds within, but they're generally easy to fish out once you've popped a globe in your mouth. The taste is big and bold and filled with heavy, musky grape sugar – an attribute that makes them unsuitable for long term storage as they tend to ferment when left to their own devices. Eat them quickly, then go back for more. Pazzo Gelato's Kyoho gelato is a nice, chilly, seasonal alternative.
Verdolagas, or more commonly purslane, is a succulent and slightly spongy leafy
vegetable with a lemony kick and a handful of nutrients that would make your momma happy. It has the highest Omega-3 content of any vegetable, is loaded with antioxidants, and has a flavor as distinctive as arugula's, though more acidic and less peppery, and is as versatile as spinach. Its drought tolerance and affinity for poor soils make it a natural for local gardens but beware, it's classified as a weed in the U.S. and can take over if not watched and pruned. So why not leave it to the professionals? Big bunches usually sell for a sinfully cheap $1.
Weiser Farms, the organic SoCal favorite for root veggies, brassicas, specialty melons, and their magical spinach (which, sadly, isn't in season until colder weather prevails), has a new variety of
potato out. Called simply the Zebra, it's a cross between and Peruvian Purple and a yellow-fleshed variety. The result is a cartoonishly-colored round boiler. That coloring is only skin deep though – the flesh within is a bright buttery yellow and is similar in flavor, though perhaps a bit more delicate and sweet, to the more commercially available Yukon Gold. Keep the peel on for plate drama.
Pasadena Farmers' Market:Sierra Madre Blvd. at Paloma Street, Pasadena. Open Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Hollywood Farmers' Market:Ivar Avenue & Selma Avenue, Hollywood. Open Sundays, 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Felicia Friesema also writes More, please.