Oh farmer's markets, how I missed you. It's been several long months, since I visited my favorite type of retail establishment. Yes we have them in Michigan all winter long, but once the harvest ends it's the same thing week in and week out. Plus with subzero temperature last month, it wasn't something I was about to do. Now I am here in sunny Southern California and on my first day in town, I had to get to a farmer's market as soon as it was humanly possible. The first market I checked out was the market at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California. Here are some of the highlights:
Sunny Cal Farms | Check out their facebook page
The stand that had the best marketing I thought was the Sunny Cal Farms stand. They had someone standing out front handing out samples with great enthusiasm. They had overflowing baskets of blood oranges, Cara Caras, Golden Nugget mandarins, Page mandarins, apples, pears, avocados, etc. Their signs were vibrinat and easy to read. Everything was priced the same, so you could just fill up a bag.
I came to California hoping to find some different varieties of avocado and I was not disappointed when I saw their bacon avocado. Sorry it doesn't taste like bacon. It is said to be more flavorful and creamier than the popular Hass that is pretty much all you ever see in the grocery store (another reason to shop your local farmer's market).
The most exciting thing from this vendor was their dried fruit selection. With samples galore and types of dried fruit I have never seen before this was my highlight at the market. Some of the things they have include Santa Rose Plums, O'Henry Peaches, White Nectarines, Figs, Apricots, and what I purchased Rainier cherries!
Nature's Tasty Treasures | Check out their facebook page
I first fell in love with varietal honey when I came to California, four years ago. I got to sample a few of their raw honeys - eucalyptus, cactus, and mixed berry. First time having a cactus honey. It had a bit of a granular texture, but yummy. The Mixed berry is the flavor I decided on. My taste buds did detect a berry flavor and I am not just saying that because it's called mixed berry. There are certain honeys that do have nuisances of their floral source and some that do not. Berry sources usually do have a berry-like flavor, even if mild. This vendor also sold fresh roasted peanuts.
Don't recall the name of the vendor who was selling cherimoya. This is a large, almost diamond shaped fruit, with a scaly green skin. When ripe, they have a delicious, creamy like texture, kind of like a banana with tropical undertones. I didn't buy any because they are a more expensive fruit ($6 per pound) however it was just fun to see them at a farmer's market.
The Sweet Potato vendor
I am excited to see sweet potatoes varieties getting more attention. Whole Foods Market has been carrying up 5 varieties at a time lately. A vendor at this market had a wonderful selection including some varieties I never heard of. Some sweet potatoes are better for roasting and some are more starchy thus better for fries or hash (check out my post on different type of sweet potatoes). They have the fascinating Okinawan Sweet Potato, that is white on the outside and bright purple on the inside!
Raw Sugar Cane Juice
I have seen sugar cane at Whole Foods and stores with a strong international emphasis. I never tried the stuff. That is until I got a sample of sugar cane juice from this cute stand. They had several different flavors to mix into the sugar cane even if didn't want to go straight up. I went with the kumquat sugar cane juice. The kumquat flavor was pronounced, which excited me to no end. It was really sweet while being thirst quenching. It was a rich juice with a caramel like flavor. So fresh tasting. Never had anything quite like it.
It was beautiful day, with a nice gentle breeze. Perfect for market. With it's amble parking and plenty of vendors to choose from, I recommend this market to anyone living in this area. The unique things at this market that I have not had at other markets (the sugarcane juice, dried fruit, sweet potato varieties), is what really makes it stand out.