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


Market Report
Santa Monica, Calif.
Wednesday, April 17, 2002

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

Market Notes:  The price of strawberries has dropped sharply in the last month.  The cheapest today sold for $2.50 for a three-pack. Another table was selling two three-packs for $7.  But Harry's Berries of Oxnard was stubbornly sticking with its price of $10 for a three-pack of seascape berries, which are reputedly better than the more shippable commercial varieties. I went for the cheapest and came home with three three-pack trays (see below) for $9.50.

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


What I Bought:

giant "Maui-type" onion

The name is somewhat controversial, since these onions haven't gotten within 3,000 miles of Maui.  They're supposed to be so sweet that you can eat them like an apple. But this particular so-called Maui-type onion proved to have a bit of a spicy bite to it.  It was certainly milder than a supermarket storage onion.  But at $1.50 per pound, this single giant onion set me back $2.95, which made it a bit overpriced, in my book.

Price: $1.50/lb.

Forona beets

I had never seen this cylindrical variety before.  Because of their shape, they are faster cooking and therefore work better than round beets when prepared in my favorite way: roasted in olive oil, salt and pepper for a long time, an hour or more, until they carmelize and get chewy.

Price: $1.75/bunch

long-stemmed purple artichoke

I've never seen long-stemmed artichokes in a supermarket.  But they're quite common in farmers markets this time of year.  The stems, once the tough, stringy outer layer has been peeled off, are edible and just as tasty as the heart.  This purple artichoke was described by the vendor who sold it to me as a French variety with a distinctly better taste than plebian American green artichokes. I bought a long-stemmed, conventional green one, cooked them both and frankly, I couldn't tell the difference, even though the purple one was twice the price.

Price: $2/each for long-stemmed purple artichokes; $1/each for large long-stemmed green ones.


These are hydroponically grown outdoors in the desert near the Salton Sea, west of Palm Springs, Calif., by the Wong family.  They're the only tomatoes worth buying this time a year, in my opinion.  Greenhouse tomatoes hardly have a hint of good ol' summertime tomato taste, in my opinion.  But these are perhaps 75 percent as tasty as mid-summer tomatoes.

Price: $2/pound or $3 for a two-pound bag 

sugar snap peas

Don't forget that the entire thing, pod and all, is edible.

Price: $2/pound


Price: $1/bunch (two large leeks)

Copyright 2001-2002 In Season