Saturday, Dec. 1, 2007
subtropical fruit from the market, photographed in charred stand of trees near Fallbrook, in a region that was devastated by fires a few weeks earlier
Vista farmers market under welcomed rainy skies
Much was lost, including thousands of acres of farms and orchards. But these hills are accustomed to getting scorched, and life will return.
Helpfully, last night, a rainstorm drenched this hilly region — too late, but eagerly welcomed, as long as it doesn’t cause too much flooding. The farmers I overheard talking about the rain at this market and another, later in the morning, in Temecula, were mentioning totals of 3 and 4 inches. A grower in Temecula said that was more than she got all last year.
This Saturday farmers market in Vista, which I last reported on in March 2002, has long been my favorite place to get subtropical fruit. The hilly region surrounding this town is blessed with countless valleys and sunny pockets in hillsides that have subtropical microclimates. Generations of adventurous growers with farm and orchards in the region, many of whom are members of California Rare Fruit Growers, have studied comparable climes, for instance the Andean highlands in Colombia and Ecuador, looking for new crops to grow here. There are dozens of exotic varieties to choose from. The fruits of their decades of experimentation are always on display at this farmers market, as well as others in San Diego County, such as the market in the Hillcrest neighborhood that I visited in January 2006.
– Mark Thompson
What I Bought
(clockwise from upper right) Buddha’s hand citron, pomegranate, hachiya persimmon, cherimoya, fuyu persimmon, Mexican lime, feijoa, Surinam cherries, guava, star fruit, sapote
Price: $3/Buddha’s hand
$1.50/lb. hachiya persimmons
$.89/lb. for fuyu persimmons
$3.50/lb. for cherimoyas
$.25/each feijoas and guavas
$3/lb. Surinam cherries
Most of the subtropical fruit I picked up today was grown by Ben Poirier, of Ben’s Subtropicals, near Fallbrook. He won’t have cherimoyas for another week, however, so the cherimoya was from another of the several growers who had them today. We’re just now getting into cherimoya season, and the primetime for many other subtropicals.
Sapotes and cherimoyas are among my favorites. Slices of carambola, also known as star fruit, will add one more conversation piece to a subtropical fruit salad. The intensively sweet, custardy sapotes and cherimoyas need an acidic counterpoint in a fruit salad. Slices of oozing blood orange fit the bill in spring. In other seasons, any available citrus fruit will do, and you can add extra lemon or lime to taste.
Buddha’s hand citron
Mixed hot peppers including habaneros, Thai and Laotian, with tomatoes
Price: $1/lb. overripe tomatoes
$3/basket of chili peppers