Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

EVENT: Food Destinations 2--My Local Greenmarket

Maki of I Was Really Just Very Hungry is hosting the second edition of Food Destinations, a food blog event in which bloggers document a food destination under a certain theme in photos and blog about it. This edition is called "My Local Greenmarket," and bloggers are directed to take a journey to their local farmer's market and document the trip in photos as well as provide details about the market.

This is a perfect exercise for me. I love my local market and I go there almost every week to purchase a few things. To begin with, let me tell you about my market. There are a jillion farmer's markets in L.A.--one of the city's redeeming qualities. But for me, there is only one that I can walk to. It's a long walk, and sometimes I set out with visions of a young woman strolling down the sidewalk, skirt flowing in the breeze, looking cool in her sunglasses and looking even more cool with her little tote bag overflowing with greens and baguettes. The reality, unfortunately, generally turns out to be sweatier and stickier and the bag of stuff more of a burden than a decoration, but it's worth it all the same. And hey, a girl needs her exercise. This walk takes place in lieu of gym and it's so much better. Much more scenic, and free.

My market is a tiny market that hides itself on the little street that is the actual Melrose Place, which bears no resemblance to the fictional apartment building where so much Spelling-provided drama once took place. It's a tiny street that runs from La Cienega to Melrose, beginning at L.A. hotspot Republic, winding past various boutiques to end at Melrose, tantalizingly close to Sweet Lady Jane bakery, which is disappointingly closed on Sundays.

The market takes place on Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. year-round. This journey took place last Sunday, Aug. 27.

When we got to the market we headed straight for J.'s favorite booth: the heirloom tomato booth. This farm sells several varieties of heirloom tomatoes plus seedless cucumbers. They will give you a checklist to keep track of the different types of tomatoes you buy so that you can remember your favorites.

The tomatoes come in so many different colors that when set out on the table, they make up a natural work of art. This might be my new flag.

This guy is here every week with a plethora of vegetables. He doesn't really talk, just hands you a bag and then tells you a price once you pick out your wares. He has had good potatoes and corn this year, I wonder what he will have this week?

The fruit is most plentiful right now. Everywhere you go the booths look like this, mounded with grapes and peaches and nectarines and plums. Very delicious. I bought some Thompson seedless grapes from this stall to take home and freeze for snacks. This was the beginning of their peak time so I am eager to see how they progress from last week to this week.

There are also other foods available besides produce. There is a lovely Greek food seller who is really friendly and if you let him he will feed you samples all day long of fresh dolmas, baba ghanoush, different cheeses and olives and breads--you can practically get your whole lunch just sampling things at his stall. Of course he doesn't mind giving out samples because he knows the stuff is so good that once you taste it you will be compelled to purchase something. There is also a bread man with fresh baked breads and a few pastries. I purchased some ciabatta rolls to eat with the plum spice jam I had recently made.

In addition to ingredients, there are also some prepared foods for sale. This is the little crepe booths where you can have a crepe made while you watch. There is also a tamale stand and a mexican food stand. I have never tried the prepared foods because I am always so enthralled by the fresh produce.

And of course, there is entertainment. This guy provides gentle melodies on his guitar that create a pleasant backdrop for shopping. And he is a children magnet, which I think is a wonderful thing to have at a Farmer's Market because it keeps them from being where I will trip over them.

And when it's all over and you have made the sticky, sweaty, foot-blistering walk back home, you can refresh yourself with your freshly purchased foods. In this case some frozen grapes and rolls with jam. Oh ... and a Red Bull, which didn't come from the farmer's market, but was really necessary that day, as I was about to go spend some time at a family barbecue and my energy really needed bolstering before that could happen.

And that's it. I look forward to every Sunday morning now, and my trip to the market to see what's new and what has gone for good, food-wise and to plan out what I will be eating for the next week.



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