The Virginia Park Farmers' Market has thus far escaped the hipster cataclysms of the Ocean Park and Hollywood Markets. There are no fixie valets to be found and bedhead hair is nominal. The scrum of prep chefs hustling after first-pick produce that marks the Wednesday Santa Monica Market is conspicuously absent.
Virginia Park on a Saturday is a shoppers market, a haven for lovers of food grown in the ground in rhythm with the sun, a respite for civilians seeking sunny shelter from the work-week. It's also the home of The Expresso Experience, a custom-fabbed “Mobile Gourmet Coffee Bar” that dispenses some of the finest coffee creations on the Westside.
This is arch-traditional stuff, like those superheated demitasses of black ink you recall from your student days in Paris or Florence. The espresso is bracing and thick, the color of crude oil, topped with a lacing of froth that signals a skilled pull. Purists will be delighted by the intense character of the brew: smoky like charred wood, with a jolt of acid for brightness and bite. This Old World expression of coffee takes well to adulterants, but we encourage you to try the Experience unmediated–say, an Americano or a lungo (a “long” shot of espresso brewed for double the customary time, forcing more water through the grinds) or a simple cappuccino–to discover what dedication to craft and superlative beans can create. The beans, by the way, are on sale for 13 bucks a pound.
Expresso Experience offers a smattering of packaged cookies and snacks. Perch the Dutch stroopwafel atop your cup to warm the caramelized syrup within, or try fresh pastries, homemade tamales (Gracias Bertha!), even BBQ ribs and sausage from neighboring stalls. A double shot and a half-rack smothered in grilled onions make a novel and effective hangover cure.
The Expresso Experience: Saturday Virginia Park Farmers' Market, 8am-1pm at the intersection of Pico and Cloverfield Boulevards; 323-868-4095. Also at the Venice Friday and Hollywood Sunday Markets.