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Rebel Rose

California Farmers' Markets

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I had to work on Saturday and my SO actually bestirred himself to go to the local market. He's become addicted to caramelized sweet onions and grilled summer squash. He did, however, refuse to carry my red J.Jill market bag.

When he returned I asked if he had stopped at Maria's stall. "I hate that woman," he said. "She's too bossy."

"Oh," I said, looking at the array of fresh greens in his bags. "What are all these different eggplants?"

"I dunno," he said. "They're Japanese and Fuji, or something like that."

"What are you going to do with them?"

"I don't know. Grill, maybe?"

"Well, if you don't know, why did you buy them?"

"She MADE me!"

:laugh:

They were delicious grilled with orange olive oil from Pasolivo, and lemony Trinidad spice from Penzeys.

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We actually had a day of lovely but brisk sunshine tucked in between rainstorms, so Lei Norman (Norman Vineyards) and I headed off to the farmers market. Find of the day ~ goose eggs (for a frittata) ~ and a booth that will have grass fed lamb ribs available in two weeks, just in time for the Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival! Since we always grill lamb racks for our festival visitors, I am going to place a special order for these racks. And of course I managed to also fill my canvas bag with grapefruit-lemon-valencia-orange marmalade, stalks of brussel sprouts, artichokes, snow peas, citrus soap, crocheted cotton wash cloths, and oyster mushrooms. And tulips. :smile:

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I learned two things from trips to farmers' markets recently.

First, there's a reason you never see Macademia nuts in the shell. They are one of the hardest nuts on the planet. No matter what the nice lady at the farmers' market sez about fresh roasted macademia nuts, (and it's true, they are better,) really, unless you have forearms like Popeye, you're better off buying them shelled.

Second, I discovered one of my childhood nemeses, Lima Beans, are actually quite tasty. I got some beautiful cream and maroon spotted ones from one of the sellers and made the following dish. They have a great meaty flavor.

1 cup fresh lima beans

2 TBSP Olive Oil

1/4# pancetta, diced

4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

1/2 medium onion, finely diced

1/4 tsp. chile flake

1/2 teaspoon dry thyme

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

2 Cups Chicken stock

1/2 # fettucine

Salt, pepper, and freshly grated parmesan

Boil your water, salt and give the beans a brief blanch (5 minutes) and remove from water. Turn the water off for the time being.

In a heavy sauce pan, brown the pancetta in the olive oil. Remove pancetta and drain excess oil.

Brown the garlic and onion in the oil, add dry thyme and chile flakes. Add a cup or so of stock and the lima beans. Cover and cook until tender (probably about an hour). Add more stock as needed.

45 minutes in, start the water again and cook your pasta. Mash the beans up a bit with your spoon. Add the browned pancetta and fresh thyme, check seasonings.

Just before the pasta is quite done, pull it from the water and add to the bean sauce with enough pasta water to loosen it up and finish cooking the pasta in the bean sauce.

Serve in warm pasta bowls and grate parmesan and fresh black pepper to top.

edit - tweak recipe


Edited by eje (log)

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Where did you find the fresh lima beans, eje? Although I think many of the fresh shell beans show up later in summer, I've been looking for fresh lima beans. (Your recipe sounds great.)

Cherries, cherries, cherries....that's what was abundant at the Sunnyvale and Mountain View markets. I got some Bing's and Queen Anne's, some apriums, which we discussed in another thread, pluots and some pepper cress.

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Where did you find the fresh lima beans, eje?  Although I think many of the fresh shell beans show up later in summer, I've been looking for fresh lima beans.  (Your recipe sounds great.)

Cherries, cherries, cherries....that's what was abundant at the Sunnyvale and Mountain View markets.  I got some Bing's and Queen Anne's, some apriums, which we discussed in another thread, pluots and some pepper cress.

I heard cherries were going to be more expensive this year due to all the rain in the spring, a lot of waste. Were they high in cost?

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Where did you find the fresh lima beans, eje?  Although I think many of the fresh shell beans show up later in summer, I've been looking for fresh lima beans.  (Your recipe sounds great.)

Cherries, cherries, cherries....that's what was abundant at the Sunnyvale and Mountain View markets.  I got some Bing's and Queen Anne's, some apriums, which we discussed in another thread, pluots and some pepper cress.

I heard cherries were going to be more expensive this year due to all the rain in the spring, a lot of waste. Were they high in cost?

The price varied--but at Sunnyvale and Mountain View they were a good price--$2.00 - $4.00/lb.

edited to add: My memory's confused now--it may have been $2-3 per container--larger than typical strawberry pints. I"m not sure what the price was per pound...


Edited by ludja (log)

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I can't believe I'm resurrecting this old thread.

I'm a SoCal native who has been transplanted into the Bay Area. I've been living in the East Bay for 10 years now. I lived in the San Gabriel Valley for the first 21 years of my life, and still visit frequently.

I never noticed a shortage of produce stores in the area of the SGV I lived in... but they are/were either fairly small, or ethnic.

We definitely didn't have anything like Monterey Market out there... the one thing that I noticed when I first moved up to the Bay Area is how much more "foodie" it is up here. The area of the SGV I was in had just a few Trader Joe's at the time, nothing like Whole Foods Market... for higher end grocery stores, we had to head out towards Claremont, Pasadena or the OC. We had to drive to Industry Hills for the nearest Japanese market.

We did have access to very fresh strawberries though. Mom almost always bought her berries straight from a strawberry field... she loves the ones from Starberry Farms in Glendora.

I've been to Monterey Market many times (my kids particularly like to go near Halloween)... my husband worked there as a teenager. I can't say that I've ever been to Berkeley Bowl though. People's descriptions of the parking/crowding there has kind of scared me away.

I live a little farther east of Berkeley now, and I honestly can't say that there's any big produce stores around here either... but pretty much every city in my area has at least 1 farmers market a week, which I can't say for the SGV.

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You really should conquer your fears and make the trip out to Berkeley Bowl as the place will win you over. I recently moved from Berkeley to Los Angeles and have been having a very very hard time finding suitable replacements for my Bay Area stops in almost every respect. Los Angeles, to me, just seems more style than substance. Whenever I find a place I think might be good, it just seems to have sub par product and lacking in "soul". I guess the trio of ACME, Berkeley Bowl, and the Cheeseboard may never quite be replaced until I find myself back in the Bay Area.

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Never having been to the originally referenced markets I can't compare, but I have to say that I am continually amazed by the quality of produce here in the greater LA area (South Bay). The prices and quality at my Korean market is incredible. There is this frenzy and joy about the shoppers. Nobody is buying one bunch of anything, its 5 or 10. The variety is also wonderful. I have a small Sunday farmers market across the street and a big one 2 days a week within 12 minutes, as well as an actual farm stand with limited produce still grown locally. Then there are the hispanic markets which also cater to African Americans - giant fresh bunches of greens, those little limes, and chilis, tamarindo and all those dried goodies. I have to restrain myself and make sure everything will get used within a week. Then when my garden kicks in....... It takes some snooping around but I enjoy the hunt.

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It's a supermarket and not a farmer's market, but we've been quite happy shopping at Super King on the edge of Glendale. Hard to beat the loss leader prices on berries, and incredibly fresh and varied offerings, from stonefruit to herbs and all between.

The article by Kathryn Maese in the Downtown News (linked below) about a recent decline in quality at the Grand Central Market is upsetting. She's quite right: there's no reason GCM can't again become a destination. It survived the loss of the Bunker Hill residential community in the 1960s, so it's madness to think the loss of the Angels Flight funicular is really the problem, especially when there are more people living downtown now than there have been in 50 years.

http://www.downtownnews.com/articles/2008/...nion/edit04.txt

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Mitsuwa, the japanese market, is excellent when it comes to produce. Costa Mesa. I believe they have a couple stores in LA as well.

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The article by Kathryn Maese in the Downtown News (linked below) about a recent decline in quality at the Grand Central Market is upsetting.

http://www.downtownnews.com/articles/2008/...nion/edit04.txt

Oh man - GCM was one of my main markets when I learned to cook while in school in the 70's. The fish guy took a lot of time teaching me how to de-bone the trout and tried to educate me about seafood in general. Sometimes the produce seemed like seconds and I found other outlets, but it was a joy to walk around there and pick up unusual cool stuff for next to nothing- which is all I could afford.

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I've been amazed at some of the produce I've been finding in your run of the mill supermarkets, and oftentimes the quality and the price surpasses those at the farmers market. At the same time, I've noticed a number of supermarkets closing. Maybe, the market is oversaturated with supermarkets. But, then, you see new companies like Sprouts and Fresh & Easy coming in.

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I've been amazed at some of the produce I've been finding in your run of the mill supermarkets, and oftentimes the quality and the price surpasses those at the farmers market. At the same time, I've noticed a number of supermarkets closing. Maybe, the market is oversaturated with supermarkets. But, then, you see new companies like Sprouts and Fresh & Easy coming in.

Sprouts- totally not impressed- seemed like "seconds" on the veggie end. Fresh & Easy- cute but I refuse to do the pre-packaged vegetables and fruits- I want to pick my own. Anyway, as you noted, there are mainstream markets in more"ethnic" neighborhoods that have incredible produce and great prices- quick example is the Food 4 Less in Gardena. Then right across the road is a Ranch 99- so you're set.

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I've been amazed at some of the produce I've been finding in your run of the mill supermarkets, and oftentimes the quality and the price surpasses those at the farmers market. At the same time, I've noticed a number of supermarkets closing. Maybe, the market is oversaturated with supermarkets. But, then, you see new companies like Sprouts and Fresh & Easy coming in.

Sprouts- totally not impressed- seemed like "seconds" on the veggie end. Fresh & Easy- cute but I refuse to do the pre-packaged vegetables and fruits- I want to pick my own. Anyway, as you noted, there are mainstream markets in more"ethnic" neighborhoods that have incredible produce and great prices- quick example is the Food 4 Less in Gardena. Then right across the road is a Ranch 99- so you're set.

There is a Food 4 Less near my house and I wasn't too impressed with it, I wonder how it differs from the one in Gardena though? I do go to Ranch 99 and Marukai every so often, so perhaps I will check out the Food 4 Less over there.

A Fresh & Easy just opened up by my house but I haven't gone there yet. The company I work for did a lot of the ad work for them some time ago though, so I am curious about it.

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There is a Food 4 Less near my house and I wasn't too impressed with it, I wonder how it differs from the one in Gardena though?  I do go to Ranch 99 and Marukai every so often, so perhaps I will check out the Food 4 Less over there.

a lot of the ad work for them some time ago though, so I am curious about it.

The Food 4 Less I mentioned is not comprehensively great for vegetables but they almost always have great collard and mustard greens, avocados, small limes, cilantro and cabbage at super prices. They also now have bins with tamarindo, jamaica and chilis which are really fresh and I like picking my amounts. It is worth a quick walk through if you are right there.

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Sprouts is one of the few places I make sure to go to (along with Marukai) every time I visit my parents in the San Gabriel Valley. I'm generally not going there for the produce though.

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So, with all these new players like Sprouts and Fresh&Easy coming into the Southern California market, are they paying their workers the same wages and benefits that other supermarkets' workers fought for and went on strike for?

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So, with all these new players like Sprouts and  Fresh&Easy coming into the Southern California market, are they paying their workers the same wages and benefits that other supermarkets' workers fought for and went on strike for?

I believe Fresh&Easy, a European-based grocery chain, has self-checkout. The grocery workers union wasn't too happy to hear this but the stores are open now and there's not much they can do about it.

I haven't been to one of the stores yet but a friend has and she says she likes them. In addition to produce, they sell pre-made meals like carne asada (not cooked but marinated), pasta carbonara, lasagne, etc. The thing my friend likes most about the pre-made meals is that they all have nutritional/caloric breakdowns on the labeling. She also said she likes that they don't use preservatives in their food. That means it can't stay in the refrigerator forever and has to be cooked up in a short amount of time before it spoils.

As for the employees, I don't know if they are union or not but think it's likely that they are not.

As for Sprouts, I believe it's an off-shoot (no pun intended) of the Henry's chain. I recall some sort of a connection between the two chains. If Sprouts is like Henry's, then their workers are not union. For the longest time, the union did have informational picketers in front of the Henry's in the area where my mom lives but now the picketers are gone.

Henry's did great business when the strike was on and I am sure a lot of their current customers are hold-overs from that time. My mom always gets her produce at Henry's and swears by them. When she goes grocery shopping, she'll buy certain things at Von's or Albertson's but always ends up buying her produce at Henry's.

As for overall impact on the union, you have to realize that both chains you mentioned are relatively small in the grand scheme of California grocery stores. Regarding your original question, it's not likely that either Sprouts or Fresh&Easy are paying their workers the same or providing the same level of health benefits as grocery store union members.

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As for overall impact on the union, you have to realize that both chains you mentioned are relatively small in the grand scheme of California grocery stores.

When will Target and Wal-Mart break into the California market? That would certainly shake things up. I listen to a podcast of Splendid Table, and one of the sponsors is Target advertising a new concept combining a traditional Target store and a grocery store.

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When will Target and Wal-Mart break into the California market?

Target and Wal-Mart are here but not the grocery-store versions. Interestingly, the local Targets have expanded their refrigerated food sections so they're selling more prepared foods. But they're not large enough to house a fresh grocery section. If any Super Targets come in here, they'd have to start from scratch as opposed to adapting a current Target.

That would certainly shake things up. I listen to a podcast of Splendid Table, and one of the sponsors is Target advertising a new concept combining a traditional Target store and a grocery store.

I don't intend any offense by saying this, but you must be young or new to the state. When I was a child San Diego had the successful Fed-Mart chain (started by, and then sold by, Sol Price who went on to found the Price Club warehouse store chain which was eventually bought out by Costco). Fed-Mart was basically a Target and a grocery store all in one space. Then there was the Gemco chain, which was basically a Target and a grocery store all in one space. The difference was that Gemco usually had a line of delineation (is that redundant?) within the store keeping the grocery section seperated from the rest of the store where Fed-Mart didn't....it was a one huge happy space.

When Sol Price sold the Fed-Mart chain to a German conglomerate (I believe), it eventually went out of business. Gemco went out of business, too.

While I haven't heard much about the Super Targets, the Super Wal-Marts have been trying to get a foothold in the state. Wal-Mart tried to build two of the stores here in Bakersfield. But residents who lived near the building sites feared an increase in traffic if the stores were built so they filed lawsuits effectively stopping them. Of course, the local grocery chains also did what they could to stop them from being built.

In fact, there is a half-finished Super Wal-Mart on the southern edge of town that you can see from the freeway. Welcome to Bakersfield. :wink:

The funny thing is, if they tried opening the stores again here in town, I think they'd get quite a different reception given the sad state of the U.S. economy. I think now they'd be welcomed with open arms.

Yes, having these "super" stores in the state certianly would "shkae things up". Which is why the current grocery chains in the state are trying to fight them at every turn.

To get back on topic, we still have a local Farmer's Market here in town. I don't think the super stores would really impact the Farmer's Market since I believe they have two diferent customer bases.

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None of these come near replacing the one-top stopping ease of Northern California ... I don't think there's another place on Earth where it's as simple to come by good ingredients.

That's what I am saying. What would it take to have something of this caliber here in the Southland? Or as Andie said, is this area just not conducive to this type of thing?

I know when I moved from the San Francisco area to Sacramento, I used to still drive over to Berkeley once a week or so. These markets are that good.

Maybe I will write the owners of these markets, and tell them that we need something like this down here. :wink:

You know, I'm glad someone broached this subject. I moved to the S. Ca desert 8 yrs ago, thinking (why, I'll NEVER know now) that we were in a somewhat agricultural district. WRONG. I haven't seen a decent tomato or peach since I left the Napa Valley. The produce in the markets here is, in my opinion, mostly a mere facsimile of real produce and for the major part, tasteless.

Even the "farmer's market" here is for some reason deficient in their quality. I don't understand why people aren't more aghast at this sad situation than they are. It seems like they say "oh, I buy my produce at Jensons" or "I only buy my produce at Bristol Farms"....well, I've tried both and occasionally, they'll have PRETTIER produce, but it's not any more flavorful (with the possible exception of berries in season) and it's 3-4 times as expensive. No thank you.

I guess I didn't realize how lucky and how spoiled we were, living in an agricultural wonderland so to speak. In fact, I didn't realize it was so difficult to come by ripe juicy, flavorful tomatoes until I moved here. Now I know :wacko: . I just know that when I went to a farmer's market, I could be assured of being able to purchase high quality produce that tasted like real food even if I couldn't find it in the markets.

Just what does it take to get decent fresh produce into an area that seems so close, yet, oh so far away?

Thank you though for the info on Berkeley; my mom is there 3 times a week, my stepdad 4 days a week, so I'm passing this market info on to them and I know they'll appreciate it. Even if they do live a mile from produce stands and farms~ there's always something interesting at a new one :smile: .

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As for overall impact on the union, you have to realize that both chains you mentioned are relatively small in the grand scheme of California grocery stores.

When will Target and Wal-Mart break into the California market? That would certainly shake things up. I listen to a podcast of Splendid Table, and one of the sponsors is Target advertising a new concept combining a traditional Target store and a grocery store.

We have two Walmart Superstores here and a Target supercenter is opening soon in Indio. Some of their produce is passable (mainly the peppers, tomatillos etc) , some of it is pretty run of the mill....and most of it isn't considerably cheaper than the other grocery stores.

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To get back on topic, we still have a local Farmer's Market here in town. I don't think the super stores would really impact the Farmer's Market since I believe they have two diferent customer bases.

Maybe, not Wal-Mart, because things are generally more expensive at a Farmers Market than grocery stores, while Wal-Mart's focus is on reducing price. But, I'd think you'd see greater overlap for customer base between a Target super store and a Farmer's Market.

As NVNGirl has pointed out, the stuff at a farmer's market oftentimes isn't even that great a lot of times. Its surprising to me all the times I've found better produce at a local grocery store at cheaper prices than at my Farmer's Market.

So, if prices are higher at a Farmer's Market and the stuff isn't necessairly even better, then why do people shop at a Farmer's Market? To make them feel good about themselves when they buy at a Farmer's Market. Given Target's commitment with local communities, consumers could also feel good about themsleves if they bought from Target.

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