Best Buys
Santa Monica, Calif.
Wednesday, March 6, 2002

The Market:
Santa Monica Farmers Market
Santa Monica, Calif.
Arizona & 3rd Street

Market Notes:  The first big flush of fava beans of the season has hit the market.  Half a dozen tables have a pile of beans.  They're three times more expensive now than they're likely to be in a couple of months.  At $2.50 per pound, in the husk, I pay $5 for a small bag of beans that yields a couple of cups of raw beans that have been laboriously plucked out of the pods and slipped out of the tough inner skin. Another great buy today: tangelos. You can tell what month it is by the degree of tang in a tangelo. In December and January, they're tart.  By May, they'll be sweet.  This month, they're a perfect tangy-sweet. Besides the items pictured in the adjacent column, I buy cherimoyas.  They are seconds, brown and a bit overripe by some standards, but quite tasty, and the price is right at $2.50 for four medium ones.  And I buy a three-pack of #2 quality strawberries for $6.  They're weak-tasting, early-season berries, not as sweet as the ones I bought last week.

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


What I Bought:

Fava Beans

Later in the spring, when the first sweet corn hits the market, I make fava bean succotash.  This week, I simply saute the beans in olive oil, chopped garlic, salt and pepper, and just enough water that the beans will be steamed by the time it evaporates.

: $2.50/lb.

This is prime time for tangelos.  These are the best I've had this season to date, just the right blend of tart and sweet.

Price: $.75/lb.


Smoked, Carmelized Pearl Onions

These are from the onion specialists, Thogmartin Farms.

Price: $2.00

Couve Tronchuda

Thogmartin Farms is best known for its onions.  But the Thogmartin table is also a great place to find an occasional oddball heirloom green.  Today is no exception.  I find an heirloom to beat all heirlooms, a leafy looking plant that according to the sign on the table is "the granddaddy of brassicas," called couve tronchuda. It is a wild, headless cabbage variety that has been cultivated since the days of ancient Rome, according to the Thogmartin label. (Some seed catalogs call it a gourmet collard.)  The Portuguese have loved the stuff for centuries and are credited with bringing it to the New World in the madeira trade..

Price: $1.50/bunch

clockwise from left: Parsnips, Rutubagas, two colors of Beets, Red Radishes, Japanese Turnips

These small rutabagas were excellent, which is to say not too overpowering when roasted along with the parsnips, turnips and beets in olive oil, salt and pepper.

Price: rutabagas, parsnips, beats: $1.50/each or $4 for 3 bunches; turnips: $1/bunch; radishes: $.75/bunch. 

Copyright 2001-2002 In Season