A Taster's Journey is a newsletter on food, wine and travel. After 15 years of studying, tasting, teaching, and selling wine, I created this newsletter to not only share my passion about wine, but of food and travel as well. Each month I hope to share wines that I am drinking, food that is in season, restaurants that I have enjoyed, and places I have traveled. Enjoy!"

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Santa Barbara’s Farmers Market

September 22nd, 2009

One of the first things I fell in love with in Santa Barbara is the Farmers Market. Don’t get me wrong, we had great markets in NY, and I must say the corn and heirloom tomatoes are awesome on Long Island in September.  But Santa Barbara’s market is huge, and thrives 12 months a year.

The market is open 6 days a week in different sections of town, but the most popular is the Saturday market downtown. There are about 100 vendors offering fruit, vegetables, flowers, nuts, meat, fish and wine. But it is not just about buying organic foods, it is a scene. People are catching up with friends, politicians are handing out buttons, and musicians are playing everywhere – my favorite being the hippie playing some killer Tom Petty.

So every Saturday morning I head off to restock the pantry.  You can smell the strawberries just walking down the aisle. So strawberries, raspberries and blueberries hop in the bag for smoothies and cereal.  Next are some carrots, asparagus and green beans. Unfortunately there were no plums this week only pluots, which is a cross between a plum and an apricot. The lettuce is amazing, tiny butter lettuces,  oak leaf, romaine, and a half dozen others just picked that morning. Heirloom tomatoes are in season this time of year, so I buy four of them.

Heirlooms from Tutti Frutti Farm

Heirlooms from Tutti Frutti Farm

I am a big fan of sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella with fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil. But, another way to showcase tomatoes that are super fresh is just slice them and dress with a vinaigrette of extra virgin olive oil, good red wine vinegar, a teaspoon of mustard, salt, pepper and some small chunks of blue cheese.

I love to make a stir fry for either lunch or dinner, and I typically make it with shrimp. For the vegetables in the stir fry I buy onions, bok choy, and peppers. Actually you can add almost any vegetable, but bok choy is my favorite for the crunch.

A Rainbow of Peppers

A Rainbow of Peppers

Corn is another great crop this time of year. It is so sweet you can almost eat it raw. Although I like simple corn on the cob, I have came up with a simple recipe that works real well when you are serving guests. Cook the ears of corn in boiling water for about one and a half minutes ( for 4 guests I use 6 ears). Now stand each ear vertically and cut the corn off the cob and add to a glass dish that can be placed in the microwave. Add butter, perhaps one pat per ear. Add fresh lime juice, usually half a lime is plenty. Chop (a scissor works great)a generous amount of chives into the bowl. Add salt and pepper. You can make this dish several hours ahead of serving time. Two minutes before dinner microwave the corn on high for one minute, taste and cook longer if needed.corn

It is interesting how farmers markets are not just fruit and vegetables anymore. At our market we can buy shrimp, oysters, lobsters when in season, and several types of fish. There are several vendors selling meat with a wide variety of beef, pork, poultry, lamb and even goat. My favorite is to buy the fresh turkey at Thanksgiving.

So I am truly blessed to have so many farmers living in my backyard, it makes it a pleasure to cook. If you can’t get to a farmers market, maybe you can grow your favorite vegetable in your backyard or just have a few fresh herbs growing in your kitchen window.

6 Responses to “Santa Barbara’s Farmers Market”

  1. Paul says:

    I can just picture the people, produce and colors on a beautiful Saturday morning. I’m on my way.

  2. Glen says:

    Who wouldn’t want to be in Santa barbara after reading and picturing this.
    Tell us more, Ed. You are our leader.

  3. Betsy says:

    Ed- It was great to see you there on Saturday. You forgot to mention the actors with their tails in the air!!
    I have been thinking about ordering a fresh turkey, from the woman that always has the fresh chickens. Are they good?
    Lastly, I did find some dark plums by the Cota street entrance… but they were hard to find.
    Thanks for writing such a nice piece on the market. I agree that it is the BEST

  4. Autumn says:

    San Jose has a Farmer’s Market 3 days a week. Great organic produce and fish monger but a much smaller selection than Santa Barbara. The one down the street from us is on Friday and only one city block. Even though it is small it is so great to buy produce that was just picked! Amazing what a difference in flavor. Thanks for the corn idea I will definately give it a go.

  5. Susan says:

    Ah, to be in California, where fresh produce is available throughout the year! Ed, share some more recipes, please!

  6. Kevin White says:

    Ed, the corn recipe is amazing! Thanks for sharing.

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