Farmer’s Market Find: Santa Monica vs San Francisco

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Santa Monica

We spent the Labor Day Weekend holiday in Santa Monica/Los Angeles. Los Angeles is very special to me, since that is where I went to college, found independence, got my first job, formed lifelong relationships, discovered Whole Foods… Satish also has family in Santa Monica (my favorite part of LA). Occasionally, on Sunday mornings I would lazily make my way over to the Main Street farmer’s market, listen to the live band, people watch, and nibble on freshly baked pastries. It was a retreat from the pressures of post-college life and recovery from a late Saturday night in Hollywood. As a more educated farmer’s market aficionado, I was really excited to revisit this FM by Venice Beach, but we opted instead to go to the LA Times Food and Wine Celebration on Sunday. Luckily, we were still in town on Wednesday, so I made sure to go the FM in downtown Santa Monica. This FM is for true cooks, offering all sorts of seasonal vegetables, fruits, eggs, meats, and artisanal goods. Maybe I never paid attention, but it was the first time I noticed grass-fed, free-range lamb and goat being sold at a FM. Similar to the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, all of the local celebrity chefs pick up their produce here and has been named one of the best markets in America by Travel + Leisure. The almost 30 year old Wednesday SMFM is expansive and has a waitlist for new farmer’s to come in and sell their products. The FM is also beautiful, set just a couple of blocks from the Pacific Ocean and in the heart of a hip, outdoor shopping district. The market is also divided into sections: “Organic”, “Non-Organic”, and “Non-Certified.” I felt that the farmers/vendors were friendlier than they are in San Francisco.  Also, the prices were very reasonable (a lot cheaper than SF)! The climate is slightly warmer in Southern California, and I noticed more varieties of peppers and tomatoes. The squash blossoms were to swoon for! I have not seen squash blossoms like that here in San Francisco. Also, thin asparagus, pistachios, raw dates, purple artichokes, lobster mushrooms were among the celebrity produce spotted!

Farm fresh eggs are in high-demand! All sold-out.

Pinot Grapes- so heavenly!

Valencia Grapefruit

Raw milk is really good, even for those who are lactose-intolerant. Really good and pure.

Really beautiful, purple artichokes.

Oh fresh, delicate squash blossoms, I wish you were naturally available year-round

Lobster Mushrooms I had a filling dish made of these at Sitka and Spruce in Seattle on a Meatless Monday. I couldn't believe there was no meat in the dish and really happy to see them grown in California.

Sitka & Spruce, Seattle - lobster mushroom and tomatoes

San Francisco

After a two-week hiatus, I am so happy to return to my FM at Fort Mason. Apples are already making an appearance and a few straggler berries are still around.  We are at the peak of our summer, but fall is just around the corner. I am a little sad, because the “summer” just seemed to pass by and I haven’t got my share of stone fruit, squash blossoms, berries… Still, all of these fruits and vegetables are tastier than ever. The melons had a late start this summer, but they are so very sweet and fragrant. Until this year, I didn’t know there were so many varieties of melons. Seriously, I only knew of one variety of cantaloupe, red watermelon (seed/seedless) and honeydew. Today alone, I spotted at least 7 different types of different melons. It’s truly amazing. Tomatoes are still going strong and being sold for much cheaper than two weeks ago. Some organic varieties were being sold for $1/lb. (You know I filled my bag with as many as I could!) Check out tomorrow’s Meatless Monday’s posting about an delicious, simple, and creative way to cook tomatoes.

The last week for Blueberries! Slowly saying goodbye to summer...

These are how prunes look before they are dried/turned into the infamous juice

With wine country so close by, it just makes sense to have winemakers selling at farmer's markets.

eat summer tomatoes like candy!

local raw honey

Kombucha and Indian Curry Squash- signs of fall

I love cooking with these Padrone Peppers- they are mild, add subtle flavor, and brighten up any dish.

Summer squash

Asian-pears- sweet, juicy, crisp and they are back. :-)

Mystery Apples-early varietal

Dried marigold petals and lemon-basil- essentials in my pantry

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