Hollywood Farmer’s Market
The first time I visited the Hollywood Farmers Market, I swung by after church on a gorgeous Sunday morning– one of those mornings that you spend wishing the sun would never set. While most people sleep in on Sundays, I love going out. It’s one of the rare times traffic is non-existent, and it feels like I have Los Angeles all to myself.
At the market, I found stall after stall of impeccably fresh, organic produce– tomatoes actually looked like tomatoes, not those fire-engine-red perfectly spherical balls you find at Ralphs. The seafood was so fresh it didn’t even smell like the ocean. I sampled some fruits so sweet I thought I was eating candy. My initial “quick peek” turned into a multi-hour affair.
These days, stopping by the Hollywood Farmers market is now somewhat of a regular tradition for me. I don’t go every week, but I try to make it there at least once a month.
My visit this past Sunday was just as pleasurable as my first. Given the cool weather this time of the year, I first lingered around the mushroom vendor near the corner of Ivar and Sunset and bought a few handfuls of chanterelles, maitakes, and shiitakes so gorgeous they could double as art.
A few minutes later, while sipping on some fresh squeezed apple juice, I discovered and spent an inordinate amount fascinated by my latest Farmers Market Find: a Bacon Avocado!I bought an especially ripe one and ate it at home later that day. It tasted exactly like every carnivore would hope: along with your typical creamy avocado texture was an unmistakable savory bacon flavor! In other words, AWESOME.
I then walked half a block north and stood in-line at a familar truck: Grill Masters. A gigantic rotisserie on four wheels that shows up every Sunday to feed throngs of rumbling stomachs, this is no ordinary food truck. Meaty columns of chicken rotate slowly on turning spits while their drippings bathe a pile of roasted potatoes below. Grill Master virgins are so mesmerized they start snapping cellphone pictures and forget to fall in line.
A man took my order and soon handed me half a chicken, a tub of garlic dip, and pita bread along with a healthy serving of roasted potatoes glistening with juice. At first I almost didn’t care I was just served the chicken, as the fresh breeze wafting scents of caramelized chicken skin was enough to warm my heart. Then I took one bite and instantly recalled why the line never seemed to end: the crispy skin, redolent with herbs, gave way to meat so moist the chicken could’ve been cooked sous vide. I kept gnawing away at the bird and soon found chicken juice dribbling down my fingers and forearms. Watching me eat chicken is not a pretty sight. Once the dirty deed was done and all that was left was a paltry chicken carcass, I wondered what was more heavily smeared across my face: chicken grease or my stupid grin.
After a subpar job of cleaning myself with some napkins, I proceeded to my favorite stall in the farmers market, and quite possibly my favorite stall in the entire world: Farm Fresh Shellfish. Some might recognize Patrick, the man expertly shucking oysters, from his previous employer, Carlsbad Oysters. He amicably parted ways with them in the fall of 2010 and started his own shop serving Kumamotos, Kusshis, Fanny Bays, and Endless Summers in addition to the Carlsbad Luna and Blondes. For only $2 an oyster, Patrick will shuck and serve what I think are the freshest oysters in town!
This particular Sunday, I ate a total of 9 oysters: Kusshis, Kumamotos, and Fanny Bays, three of each and definitely a meal in itself. The Kusshis are the lightest of the bunch, a slightly lemony oyster that never fails to put a smile on my face. Kumamotos, buttery and cucumbery (is that even a word?), are perfect with a few drops of lemon. And I can’t think of a better way to end my oyster feast than with a few Fanny Bays– gorgeous bivalves holding slate-gray orbs of firm meat leading up to an intense briney finish.
Perhaps oysters really are aphrodisiacs or maybe it’s just me, but Farm Fresh Shellfish always leaves me grinning ear to ear for the rest of the afternoon.
On my way out of the market, I always make it a point to pick up a scoop of Carmela Ice Cream. All their flavors are very good, but their salted caramel and mint chip are perfection. Carmela’s salted caramel is on-par with San Francisco’s Bi-Rite Creamery’s, and if you’re familiar with Bi-Rite, you know salted caramel ice cream doesn’t get much better than that. The brown sugar flavor is intensely rich and deep with a heavy dose of salt that is sure to make you weak in the knees. The mint chip tastes so fresh, herbal, and refreshing, it’s almost like eating handfuls of freshly plucked mint followed by judicious slugs of heavy cream.