Farmers Markets on the Road

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A peach, an Asian pear, nectarines, plums, pluots and a tangerine from the Santa Barbara Farmers Market, photographed on Sand Dollar Beach in Big Sur

July 16, 2016–On a quick return trip to Los Angeles, where I lived for 25 years before moving east, I managed to fit in a visit to two of my favorite places on one road trip: the Santa Barbara Farmers Market and Big Sur. My daughters, girlfriend and I left Los Angeles at 9 a.m., were parked and strolling through the market a couple of hours later, and made it to our Airbnb rental, a rustic cabin at Charan Springs Farm in the foothills outside of Cambria, just south of Big Sur, by mid-afternoon, with enough fruit and vegetables to last us for the weekend and beyond.

I’d like to knowexactly how many varieties of fruits and vegetables are on sale in the Santa Barbara Farmers Market on any give day, if someone would care to count them up. The number would surely range into the hundreds–at any time of year. In mid summer, the number of varieties of just stone fruit peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots pluots–ranges in the dozens. They’re good road trip food, and photogenic to boot, so I loaded up and photographed an array of them the next morning on rugged Sand Dollar Beach in Big Sur.

Downtown Santa Barbara Farmers Market
Santa Barbara & Cota Streets
Saturdays, 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
(805) 962-5354

To get a sense of the ever-changing kaleidoscope array of produce on sale at this market, check out these reports from my visits to the Santa Barbara market in previous years in February, March and June.

Here’s a slide show of scenes from the market on this day:

And here are some of my purchases.

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pluot varieties including Dapple Dandy, Dapple Fire, Flavor Grande and July Rose; plum varieties including Mariposa and Mirabelle; Arctic Queen nectarine; and (upper right) Daisy tangerine

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Asian pear, Mariposa and Mirabelle plums

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Australian finger caviar limes

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heirloom tomatoes (including persimmon, lemon boy and Cherokee purple)

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Italian frying peppers (left) and Persian cucumbers
peppers $3.50/lb.
cucumbers $3/lb.

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squash and eggplant varieties
squash $2/lb.
eggplant $3/lb.

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fresh ginger (top) and torpedo onions
ginger $9/lb.
onions $2/bunch

– Mark Thompson