We had a field trip at the new school of cooking today for our farmers market class and visited the farmers market in Hollywood. This place had the most variety of fruits and vegetables I had ever seen! Some were new and exotic and others were ones that you would see in the supermarket, but they had this ‘earthy freshness’ about them. There were also stalls selling meats, flowers, and even live lobsters! I’ll defiantly be making the hollywood farmers market part of my weekly routine!
We were given a guided tour by Pompea Smith, the CEO and market manager of the Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA). She took us wondering from stall to stall, introducing the class to the stall owners and explaining to us the importance of sustainable farming. I was pretty distracted by the number of free samples everywhere, so I only have a few photos from the actual market.
After our tour we were given half an hour to buy produce for ourselves whilst our chef-teacher, Carol, went around buying food for us to prepare later in class… Here’s what I managed to grab in that no-where-near-enough-time half hour:
I got some Weiser Farms heirloom fingerling potatoes in rose, purple and white as well as some yellow carrots. I also fell in love with a Chrimoya (a kind of custard apple) when I was given a sample, so i bought 2. I also got a grapefruit, a giant leek, and some pork spare ribs. I have not decided what to do with everything just yet, but I will post when I do.
When we got back to school, Carol had her farmers market bounty laid out proudly:
The class was almost as exciting as the market because, for once, we got to freestyle! as in we did not have to follow a recipe card! So much more fun! and I got lucky- since I was standing next to the fresh spring chicken, I got to cook it! I kept it simple since the ingredients were so fresh, I just cleaned it then rubbed it with some butter, salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary and stuck a bay leaf and 1/2 lemon inside. The result:
Amazing!! the chicken was succulent, skin was crispy, but most importantly, the chicken actually tasted like chicken- and not that powdery, dry, bland taste you get from your pre-frozen supermarket chicken.
I also made some roasted veggies- carrots, parsnips and potatoes, again from Weiser farms. Only the best stuff for our class:
We also had, a grilled fresh asparagus, fava bean and pea side, some grilled tomatoes just off the vine, some fresh seascape strawberries with chamomile flowers and fresh-made ricotta with honey, grilled romaine with goat cheese stuffed dates wrapped in prosciutto, my favorite – fresh roasted hazelnuts with Pacifica wildflower honey, stilton and fresh crostini, as well as a avocado salad with mixed greens and roasted beets.
They all tasted absolutely amazing! You really cannot beat the taste and quality of real farm fresh ingredients. In closing, the lesson we learned here is that when you shop at a farmers market, you buy what ‘speaks’ or stands out to you. Let the vendor pick the produce for you based on you telling them when you intend to prepare the food. Lastly, don’t use these ingredients for jams or stews or any recipe that would hide and not showcase the ingredient. This is nature at its best! Enjoy!