Santa Monica Farmers Market
Santa Monica, Calif.
Arizona & 3rd Street
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Mark Thompson, publisher of this Web site
What I Bought:
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.
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)
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
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.
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.