Santa Monica Farmers Market, Santa Monica, Calif.

August 24, 2013

I’ve been shopping at this market for 25 years, though I’m down to two or three visits a year since I’m living in Philadelphia. Here, you’ll usually have a choice of at least half a dozen – if not dozens – of different varieties of whatever fruit or vegetable you’re looking for. Today, I bought mixed selections of plums and other stone fruit, peppers and tomatoes. You’ll also almost never fail to find something you’ve never seen before. The dozens of farmers who have procured coveted slots in this trend setting farmers market, which is frequented by many of the best chefs in Los Angeles, are constantly coming up with new things to offer their highly discriminating customers. Today, the fresh gherkin cucumbers were a first for me.

– Mark Thompson

Location: Arizona Ave. between 1st and 4th St.
Wed. and Sat., 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m
(310) 458-8712

What I Bought

multiple varieties of stone fruit
Plum varieties including El Dorado, Kelsey, Elephant Heart and Grand Rosa, and Pluot varieties including Dinosaur Egg, Flavor Rich and Golden Globe

Price: $3/lb.

pepper varieties Pepper varieties including Hungarian, Lipstick, Jalapeno, Serrano and Padron

Price: $3-10/lb.

Padron peppers Padron peppers

I toss these with olive oil and little salt and fry them quickly in a hot cast-iron skillet until they begin to blacken in places.

Price: $10/lb.

Lipstick peppers Lipstick Peppers

I used to buy these to cut up and put in my daughters’s school lunches back in the day. They’re meaty and sweet enough that they could pass for slices of fruit.

Price: $5

heirloom tomatoes
heirloom tomatoes

Price: $3/lb.

gherkin cucumbers
gherkin cucumbers

These gherkins would have been fun to pickle. But I am leaving town in a few days so I ate these fresh, tossed in a little salt. With all that skin enclosing a morsel of meat, they’re predictably tart and tough. I bet they would have been better pickled.

Price: $3/basket