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Vintage California Cuisine: 300 Recipes from the First Cookbooks Published in the Golden State


Market Report
Santa Monica, Calif.
Saturday Jan. 11, 2003

The Market:
Santa Monica Farmers Market
Santa Monica, Calif.
Arizona & 3rd Street
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Market-Goer: Mark Thompson, publisher of this Web site


What I Bought:

Heirloom tomatoes

So what's so "seasonal" about tomatoes in January, astute readers might ask? The answer is, this winter season in Southern California has been, to date, one of the warmest since records were first kept in the 1880s. Hence the vines that were planted last spring in the fields at Munak Farms, on the Central California coast near San Luis Obispo, were still yielding tomatoes -- that is until this past week when Ed Munak said he stripped them of all the remaining fruit. This is the last week he'll have tomatoes until summer, he said.  They might have lasted even longer this year but heavy December rains made it hard to get into the fields.  Normally, Munak counts himself lucky if he can bring tomatoes to the market through November, by which time frost and/or rain finish off his crop.  So far this winter, his farm has been hit with several frosts, he said.   But none lasted longer than an hour.  It takes four hours of frost to kill a tomato plant.  The scars on these tomatoes reveal that they are not in their prime.  And they're not nearly as tasty as they were in August. But I buy these anyway, knowing that they are the last decent non-greenhouse heirloom tomatoes I'll see in the markets for six months.

Price: $2/lb.

Fuyu persimmons, blood oranges, grapefruit (clockwise from lower left)

Price: $1.50/lb. or $5/4 lbs.

beets, Tahitian squash (top row, left to right)
ratte and Peruvian purple potatoes (bottom row)

The diced squash in the bag is from a variety of winter squashes that are so huge that few if any would ever buy, unless they could back their car up to the market table and were planning to make, say, squash soup for 50.  So farmers sell them in chunks, whacked off the whole squash with machete to order, or diced in Ziplock bags..

Price: beets $1.50/bunch (three medium)
potatoes $1.50/lb
squash $1.50/bag

Leeks, bok choy, green onions, yu choy (clockwise from upper left)

Yu choy looks something like Chinese broccoli but it is in fact a type of mustard green that cooks in a hot wok in just a couple of minutes.

Price: $1/bunch

baby broccoli

Billed as "baby broccoli," these are actually fully mature by tiny heads of broccoli harvested from a variety that produces a lot of side shoots after the central head is cut out.  They cook very quickly in soup or a wok and the whole things, leaves and all, are edible. Mary Carpenter, of Coastal Organics, from whom I bought these, suggests blanching them quickly and then roasting them in olive oil in a hot oven for perhaps 10 minutes.

Price: $4/lb.

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