Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Farmers' Market, Santa Barbara

Shopping for herbs
As we planned our trip to California, I looked forward to shopping at the Santa Barbara Farmers' Market again. Local produce here is varied because we're near so many climate zones. I'm sure the terrible drought is affecting farmers here, but the market was still full of variety.
Dates in color-coded bags
Vendors at yesterday's downtown market offered seasonal strawberries, hand-produced olive oil, avocados, artichokes, asparagus, walnuts, pistachio nuts, tangerines, lettuce and many other greens, Meyer lemons, free-range eggs and chickens, tomatoes, chirimoyas, artisanal cheeses, root vegetables, garlic and garlic shoots, dried fruits, jams and crusty pies from fresh fruit, and more -- all locally grown or made, all sold by the original farmers or producers.

Smells and tastes of the market are delightful. The perfume of never-refrigerated strawberries is amazing, especially compared to the odorless plastic-covered cold berries in a supermarket. The aroma of many types of herbs mingle so you can't quite identify them. At many stalls you can taste a sample: cheddar cheese with sage -- we bought that! Two kinds of dates -- we chose honey dates. A section of a special local tangerine. A little cup of olive oil -- we bought a small bottle.

Chirimoyas -- a fairly exotic fruit. To me they taste
like juicy fruit gum. (I didn't buy them this time).
Our dinner was almost 100% farmers' market food: an omelet with dill, green onion, and cilantro; tomatoes with herbs and lemon juice; baby artichokes dipped in olive oil; sliced strawberries. The depth of flavor of every item was stunning. The olive oil is especially notable both in taste and velvety texture on the tongue. We will be eating more of our bounty in the next few days -- cauliflower, lettuce, sorrel, avocados...

Ride a bike to the market!


~~louise~~ said...

I can not wait until our Farmers Markets open here in central PA, Mae. I must say though, those in the immediate vicinity are lacking. I'm not sure why but I always feel I need to check to make sure that what I may want to buy is genuine to the area.

I do live in a farming community but most of the farmers are dairy farmers so they usually only grow corn. I was thinking there was going to be an abundance of crops to choose from but so far, I am more than disappointed. I may need to venture further but California is not on my agenda for this year.

It sounds like you encountered quite a variety of goodness in Santa Barbara. Good for you!

Thanks for sharing, Mae...

Debra Eliotseats said...

Glad to know there is someone else who plans vacations around farmers markets. I love tagging along on your trip, too.