With dark cloudy skies and the threat of rain in the chilly air, Sunday's Hollywood Farmers’ Market sure felt like autumn and was bursting with autumn colors as vendors displayed Indian corn, winter squash and jujube fruit.
“In China, they’ve been growing jujubes for over 4,000 years,” said Khristine Larson, who operates the Yingst Farm produce stand at the market with husband, Bruce.
When the jujube fruit is eaten at this unripe stage it has the texture of an apple. It’s eaten as a snack and often served with tea. As the jujube fruit ripens, it’s similar to a date where it softens and becomes sweeter.
“Jujube fruit is good for the heart because it helps lower cholesterol and improve circulation,” Bruce Larson said. “It also helps to relax and calm the stress in our lives.”
Yingst Farm is located in Littlerock and owned by Charlie Yingst, one of the pioneers who started the early farmers market movement 25 years ago. All summer the farm has supplied the market with a beautiful harvest of apricots, peaches and nectarines. Now it’s moved into the autumn items such as jujube fruits, pears and apples.
If you’re like me, I’m having a difficult time saying goodbye to summer.
There are still a few summer items in their prime, but you’ve got to act quickly because the weather is changing. Finley Farms and Pedro’s Avocado Ranch have a beautiful selection of heirloom tomatoes, avocados, tomatillo and spicy chili peppers. Squash blossoms are also on the way out, but one glance of them still makes me feel the glow of summer. Luckily, the beautiful flowers are still available at the South Central Farmers Cooperative stand. These are a few key ingredients for Mexican cuisine, which always makes me feel like it’s summer when I eat it. Especially after drinking a margarita or two.
Recently, I saw several chefs from the nearby Loteria Grill, a fun Mexican restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard, leaving the market with huge bags filled with the the squash flowers. When asked, Jimmy Shaw, the executive chef of the restaurant, explained the blossoms are used to make a special quesadilla served at the restaurant. My mouth has been watering ever since.
Gooey melted cheese, spicy salsa and sweet avocado are the perfect balance to the otherwise earthy tasting squash blossoms. Unfortunately, Richard Dominguez, the owner of Pedro’s Avocado Ranch explained that the summer avocado season is ending and there will be break before the season begins again in December.
“Right now the trees are filled with small green fruit so it looks like the avocado season’s going to be a good one this year,” Dominguez said.
Regier Farms is offering the last of its summer peaches and grapes, but it will be returning in November with sweet satsuma mandarins.
“Our mandarins grow on 25-year-old trees and are exceptional in flavor,” said Ernie Chavarrice, who operates the Regier Farm stand. “Just wait 'til you taste them. I promise you’re going to love them.”
Chavarrice’s smile and the promise of special mandarins and avocados in the future suddenly made me feel like maybe autumn just isn’t going to be so bad after all.
Please feel free to share stories and recipes of the items you find interesting at the market. If you see me strolling about, please say hello.
See you next week at the market!
The Hollywood Farmers Market is located at the intersection of Ivar and Selma avenues, between Sunset and Hollywood boulevards. Rain or shine, it is open every Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The market is a certified open-air street market with approximately 100 farmers, 30 local artisans and 40 baked-goods and prepared-food vendors who sell their products every Sunday. It is a direct-to-consumer marketplace with all produce and products from local, California vendors and growers.
Parking: Cinerama Dome: $3 for first two hours with validation available at the information booth at Ivar and DeLongpre avenues. Metered parking: Check parking enforcement signs. Some meters free until 11 a.m. on Sundays.
Dog Sitting: Only tagged assistance dogs are allowed at the market, but this shouldn’t stop others from walking their dogs to the public event. There’s a dog sitting service provided at the corner of Ivar and Vine streets. Your prized pooch will get to socialize with other dogs while you do your shopping at the market. It charges a small fee of $5 per 20 minutes.