I recently visited the Farmers Market in Manhattan Beach to see what was in season and bring home some fresh ingredients to cook. I usually am indoors sitting at my computer, so it was a wonderful experience to walk around with the sun on my face in a crowd outdoors. I hadn’t been there this year and was so delighted with what was available that I wanted to buy some of everything. I finally settled on little red potatoes, green beans, strawberries, avocados, asparagus and blood oranges. I have already written about a salad I made with the avocados and asparagus, and more posts are coming up with how I used the other beautiful things I bought.
Walking around, I was struck with how the displays of fruits and vegetables were visual poetry for the camera. The oranges and tangerines were a brilliant orange in the sun and the bunches of Swiss chard had wonderful earthy dark green leaves with surprising red and pink streaked stalks. I was imagining the farmer in the field that morning with a big knife harvesting the chard by hand and binding the bundles together. This chard had never been in an 18-wheeler or in a warehouse. It was straight from the soil to the wooden crates before me.
The blood oranges were from the Atkins Nursery in Fallbrook, California. The representative told me they have 7,000 citrus, avocado and sub-tropical trees, half of which are for sale and the other half are for production of the produce they take to the local farmers markets to promote their nursery. If you need to buy a citrus or avocado tree, this would be a place to start. I was trying to imagine 7,000 trees and how big an area they must occupy. Kind of mind boggling. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The strawberries I bought were amazing! The berries I buy at the big food market are picked only partially ripened for packing purpose. They have a red layer on the outside, but are firm and white on the inside. The berries I bought at the farmers market were completely ripened in the field and were red and sweet and juicy all the way through. Quite a revelation. I’m going to have to figure out a very special dish in which to use them.
There were a number of booths selling containers of hummus, pesto, tapenades, fresh baked bread and fresh seafood on ice. And there is actually a guy who sharpens knives, which is a handy piece of info to have.
Here is a photo of my Bolga Basket with some of the stuff I bought. You can buy these beautiful baskets at the farmers market. They are hand-woven in Ghana in West Africa. The weavers are mostly farmers and their families who supplement their income by making and selling baskets. They are made from elephant grass straw and are colored with plant extracts that don’t stain or run. The handles are finished using treated leather from goats’ hide. There was a big pile of them and every one had different colors and patterns. They’re really perfect for carrying around and collecting everything you buy.
When I was done shopping, happy and exhausted, I bought a kabob from the Greek grill booth and sat nearby and ate. I watched the people leaving with bags full of produce and armfuls of flowers. They all looked happy, too.
I am really thankful for this beautiful world we live in. And for my kabob.
The Manhattan Beach Farmers Market takes place every Tuesday from noon til 4pm. It is located on 13th Street, between Morningside and Valley Drive near Manhattan Beach Blvd.