Thursday, July 04, 2002

My market

From yesterday's LA Times:
Pasadena's Weekend Pleasures
David Karp

July 3 2002

With its fine selection of growers, devoted customers and veteran manager, the Pasadena Saturday farmers market ranks in the top tier of markets.

One of its special pleasures is the just-picked produce grown by Mike Taylor in his West Covina backyard, such as luscious Brown Turkey figs, aromatic Santa Rosa plums, purple Japanese eggplants and a bevy of heirloom tomatoes, including flavorful Brandywines, fuzzy yellow Peaches and Enchantment plum tomatoes.

Joan Kaplan from Altadena offers fresh sprouts. Some, such as garbanzos and lentils, are grown in jars indoors and have sprouts just emerging from the moistened seeds; in others, like the sharp radish and mild alfalfa, the sprouts have pushed out an inch or so, while her sunflower and pea sprouts are actually infant plants, grown in flats outdoors. Many shoppers are drawn to the spectacular display arranged by Jose Hernandez, the vendor for Suncoast Farms of Lompoc: huge mounds of broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and artichokes, ornamented by zucchini with their yellow blossoms.

Gary Ondray sells pristine shiitake mushrooms from Squaw Valley. Tanaka Farms of Irvine has giant, mild-flavored Maui onions weighing up to 4 pounds.

"That's more than I can use at one meal, so when I buy one I chop it up and freeze the leftover portion for use later," says Gretchen Stirling, the market's manager. Stirling has managed the market since it began in 1984.

Valencia oranges, one of the Southland's classic crops, are at peak quality, and Manuel Alvarez sells superbly sweet and juicy examples from Fillmore. They come in 20-pound bags for $4.

At the Regier stand, customers gobble samples of superbly flavorful June Pride yellow peaches as fast as Tami Taylor of Dinuba can slice them; this Saturday she'll also have Redtop, a classic 50-year-old variety.

Pasadena (Victory Park) farmers market, 2800 block of North Sierra Madre Boulevard, between Paloma Street and Washington Boulevard, Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Hot tip: Look for intensely flavored sweet-tart Persian mulberries from Kim and Clarence Blain at today's Santa Monica market, and at Hollywood on Sunday.

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