With much of the country buffeted by rainstorms and blizzards, the beautiful weather and our farmers' market are reminders of how lucky we are to live in Pacific Palisades.
On Sundays with the blue sky overhead, we can wander the aisles of the , say hi to friends, check out the freshly picked produce and stop to sample what’s in season.
Right now the Fuji apples at Ha’s Apple Farm have reached a peak of crisp sweetness. The cara cara oranges from G Farms are sweet and juicy and at $1.50 pound, a bargain as well.
People look forward to the market, not only to replenish necessities, but also to greet farmers, who over the years have become friends, like John Sweredoski who sells deliciously fresh produce with a smile and good cheer.
Of all the markets in the area, the Palisades farmers’ market has some of the best produce although not necessarily the cheapest. There are bargains, but you have to look for them.
Before you buy, enjoy a leisurely stroll and check the quality and price of what's for sale that day. You'll find good buys like Mr. Yang’s carrots, arugula and sweet potatoes, Corona Farm's fat bunches of spinach for $1.50 or Givens Farms’ Italian parsley among well-priced, high-quality products.
In addition to the farmers’ stalls, there are nearly 20 ready-to-eat and prepared foods vendors who sell - as my grandmother would say - soup to nuts.
The farmers' market isn't just for cooks anymore.
In the past several months, ready-to-eat and prepared food vendors have congregated in front of Village Books, selling spicy treats as varied as Arboleda Salsa, Aliki’s Greek Taverna, Dave’s Gourmet Korean Food from Yang Bahn House Korean BBQ (with tofu and vegan dishes) and Masala’s “Spice Up Your Life” Indian food.
Many of the vendors are practitioners of the locavore, organic movement. This practice encourages buying locally when feasible, using organic products and preparing their foods in the manner of home cooks with family heirloom recipes.
Juicy Ladies prepares juices, organic salads and vegetarian stews and patties, which are perfects snacks to nibble while perusing the market or to carry home for dinner.
Fat Uncle Farms from Goleta and Alex’s Fruits and Nuts have dry roasted and flavored nuts, as well as nut butters (Fat Uncle Farms) and dried fruit (Alex’s).
At Popstar Kettle Corn the urgent scrapping of a paddle against the side of a giant copper kettle and the sound of exploding corn kernels is like a pied piper calling young and old to come quickly and pick up a warm bag of popcorn.
Corn Maiden Tamales, another old favorite of the market, sells freshly made tamales in a dozen combinations with a selection of salsas and sauces. Some patrons can’t wait until they get home to enjoy the warm comfort of their steaming tamale. They sit on the sidewalk or the bench in front of Benton’s and quickly unwrap the dried corn husk to get at the delicious tamale inside. The smiles on their faces say, “What a splendifourous way to begin the day!”
Cookies, cakes, quiches, muffins, tarts, breads and rolls fill many tables, with samples available for tasting.
For those in pursuit of baked goods, there are hearty breads by Baker’s Best Bread; the rich brownies, toffees, fudge and brittle made by Ann’s Bake Works; and solidly constructed but no less delicious granola bars, scones and cookies of Sconeage Bakery.
Jinou Edible Art makes desserts as appealing to the eye as to the palate.
Domenico’s Foods sells ready to eat Italian favorites like eggplant Parmegiano, enticing shoppers who want a substantial meal, but neither want to eat out or cook on a day they see better spent reading the Sunday newspaper or taking a long walk in the sun.
At Saveurs, microwavable containers crowd the small table, offering a full menu of French and Italian classics: Duck confit, chicken in lemon and verbena sauce, glazed carrots with marjoram, lasagna with beef and spinach, and risotto with vegetables and chicken broth.
And lastly, for those who crave an afternoon antipasti accompanied by a glass of wine or an ice cold beer, vendors Mom’s and Aliki’s Greek Taverna both offer a delicious selection of spreadable treats, including humus and garlic spread.
As the Sunday market expands to include a wider variety of foods, Palisadians have even more reasons to stay in the neighborhood, sharing their leisure time with friends and family.
Oh, yes, how lucky we are to live in the Palisades.
Follow David's Palisades Food Adventures every Thursday. David Latt's blog, Men Who Like to Cook, can be found here.