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Markets & Stores 12

Alemany Farmers' Market – Squash Leaves & Figs

Stanley Stephan | Jun 14, 200305:36 PM

It’s been over a decade since I visited this market and you can go home again.

Very little has changed in that decade and that can be a good thing. It has slightly spruced up a bit. This year murals by local artists were added to some of the stalls. For example, the honey vendor is in a stall with colorful bees and flowers.

Everything is where I remember it from so many years ago. The citrus, honey, egg, fruit, and apple juice vendors are in the same spots and probably the same vendors. There are a few more bakery stands and a half a dozen or so stands that identify themselves as organic.

Squash leaves seemed to be big this week. How are they used? My search of the web only turned up one recipe for Bean Noodles with Vegetables (Laksa) and the fact that deer are very fond of them.

The first figs made their way to the market. One vendor was selling them at probably the highest price of anything in the market. They were five dollars a basket. The same vendor was also selling green almonds, although I suspect they were picked a little too late.

The big find here was Medrano Flowers which has absolutely stunning flowers at bargain prices. With a huge selection, the most beautiful this week were the day lilies – spectacular blooms, some scented and in intense colors … deep pink with dark pink speckles, brilliant yellow, scarlet, white and delicate orange. They were $1.50 a stem. There were beautiful roses for $3 a bunch. There were over a half dozen colors of gladiolas selling at $3.50. I saw the most astounding two toned pink/fuchsia snapdragons. There were dozens of other of varieties of flowers as well. This is the only market that they sell at.

There were about a half dozen flower vendors if you included the vendors selling orchids and potted and hanging plants. Other vendors had carnations and mums for $2 - $3 a bunch.

Another find was East & West Gourmet which has only been making their wonderful dips for four months. The owner says she will try to sell these at local groceries soon. Look for them. They are great. She said the response she has had to her product has surprised her. My favorites were the garlic mint cheese and the roasted red pepper. Other varieties are basil pesto, eggplant pesto, sun dried tomato pesto, lentil curry. She also has a number of flat breads. The bolani, she says, sells out early. There are also three great hot jellies as well which include sweet and sour carrot, hot green jalapeño, and sweet jalapeño.

I’m thinking that after all this farmer market trekking I might bring the best of the condiments I found to the Chowhound picnic this year … pickles, olives, dips, etc. I don’t cook so I’m hoping that would be ok. I do shop well though.

Back to the market … the prices are rock bottom even for much of the organic produce. Organic peaches and nectarines were selling for $1 - $1.50 a pound. The price of cherries was $2 a pound for both the organic and non organic varieties.

I had change from a $20 after buying cherries, raspberries, blackberries, organic field-grown cherry tomatoes, olive oil, cucumbers and breakfast. The tomatoes from Johnson farms were an ahhh moment. They were full of sweet summer flavor.

I bought the raspberries because I was parked in front of the stand and the vendor kept telling everyone this has been the best season for berries in years.

Again, the prices are the big draw … farm fresh and inexpensive. Some bargains were fava beans (50 cents a pound), squash blossoms ($1 a pound), summer squash (3 pounds for $1), kiwi (2 ½ pounds for $1), onions (3 pounds for $1), herbs (fifty cents a bunch), oranges (50 cents a pound).

The organic stands are at the end nearest the entrance/exit.

I bought 8 varieties of cherries from various vendors including Bing, Queen Ann, Coral, Chelon, Larian, Utah Giant, Ranier, and Index.

There were a few egg vendors, the biggest selling deep scarlet salt pickled duck eggs which the vendor said were “real salty”. They also sold tiny speckled quail eggs (90 cents for 10), duck eggs ($4.75 a flat), Chicken Balut ($4 a dozen) and flats where you could buy as many as thirty small eggs for $2 (three flats for $5).

EZ Does It Farms was selling organic free range eggs for $3 a dozen. These lovely eggs were in a big basket cushioned by straw. You could buy hard boiled eggs for fifty cents each as well. This farm also sells Nash’s Olive Oils and vinegars and olives. The oils were very nice, I bought one, but the vinegars were a little too acidic for me. I may revisit the white balsamic one though.

Other olive oil vendors included Barini and Big Paw which are found at a number of farmer’s markets.

There was a large selection (to me) of Asian veggies and herbs like taro and bitter melon and many, many green and veggie UFOs (unidentified farm objects).

The mushroom stand had some of the loveliest and largest portabella mushrooms I have ever seen. At $5 a pound you could see the white under the sandy brown caps. Each mushroom seemed big enough to weigh a pound. Other mushrooms included organic bears head ($8 a pound), organic shitake (6.50) a pound, Organic abalone ($8 a pound), Maitake ($15 a pound) and Tree oyster mushrooms ($4.75) a pound. Conventional white and browns were selling at $2.50 a pound. How do you grow an organic mushroom?

Eggman honey had square honeycombs ($3.75) in different varieties like orange blossom, alfalfa, and wildflower. They also sold beeswax and bee pollen. Honey ranged from $1.75 a jar up to huge gallon jars for $22. From their page on the National Honey Board website (which has honey recipes), it seems they also sell pails of honey. Blue Curl honey and Mountain floral honey is gathered at 7000' in the Sequoia National Forrest. Here’s the link to their page:

There was a date vendor there that had some lovely looking black abada dates that I forgot to pick up. The word “safest” or “safety” was in the name. I asked what a safe date was and got some sort of convoluted story about the owner never being bitten by some sort of animal. Dates looked good though.

It’s really summer as I did my first canning for the season. For me summer canning involves, fruit, brandy and sterilized jars. I bought some lovely, sweet organic blackberries for $4. There was a second variety called Chester blackberries which were less sweet and had a winey flavor to them. In the dark, rainy days of winter when I get that first cold, I can warm myself with some organic (so to speak) blackberry brandy.

Of course there were a number of dried fruit and nut vendors. I saw some lovely looking dried black eyed peas and lima beans.

One vendor was selling crabs for $2.75.

Point Reyes Oyster was selling Pacific oysters in the following price range:
xsmall - $5.50 a dozen $35 a hundred
large - $9 a dozen $65 a hundred
clusters - $30
Tomales Bay oysters were $4.50 for 18 pieces.
Manilla Clams were $5.50 for 20 pieces.
Kumamoto oysters were $7 a dozen.

Wow, a hundred oysters. Beverages and More is down the street. A case of champagne and I have the makings of a party.

In terms of prepared foods, many of the vendors were selling coffee. The Alemany Espresso cart had espresso drinks as well.

Dad’s dogs had frankfurters floating in dirty water with a bunch of messy condiments on the side. Sigh … it reminded me of NYC. I was way to full from sampling to try them out.

Cunio was selling their eight different types of Linguiria Bakery type of foccacia. They sell at the Jack London market as well.

Panorama bakery was selling loaves and some really good looking croissants. They had cheese bread with orange-ish cheese in the middle. It was that supermarket cheddar orange. They also sold partially baked pizza crusts, weird looking pizza crusts. Sort of like huge flat English muffins.

Artisan bread which sells at the Civic Center and a few other markets were there. To me they are borderline good. I tried a nice sweet potato muffin that had good spice but was not as moist as I expected. The apple turnover was more nostalgic for me and I liked it. Flaky with more crust than apple, if you are from the East Coast all I can say was that it reminded me of Table Talk pies. They are not great, but they are not bad.

In that same category was All Star Tamales. Dry-ish Mexican Style, the sauces really helped out. I have to say the sauces were pretty good. There was a good mild red and a spicier green that I would have bought a jar of if they sold it that way. I tried sweet corn tamale … ok … it had sugar. I tried the picadeli which had corn, baby carrots (tiny baby carrots) and chewy, almost grisly, beef. They were filling and sort of not half bad. They also sold green chile and cheese, vegan, chicken fajita (huh?) beef, and I must have wrote this down wrong, green pork (?) (That doesn’t sound good). They also sold enchiladas and lemonade (if they were smart they would call it lemon aqua fresca and raise the price). There was a folding table next to the stand so you could sit down and eat.

I was going to say that this was the first market without Quick N EZE Indian food, but it goes by the name Sukhis. However, the stuff looked different and better. They had Spinach Roti, Paratha, Lentil Roti, samosas and some good looking pappadans. Here’s the web site:

Great Harvest had oil free healthy bread in addition to some pastries.

No cheese, meat or candy vendors that I could see. None of the alleged live chickens either. I was there at opening (6am). No chickens.

This market has the longest hours 6am – 5pm. It is surrounded by two lots and, I forgot, parking actually in the center of the stalls. At six am only about a third of the vendors were there. By 7:15 almost everyone was there and the crowds had moved in. The one good thing is no one refuses to sell to you even if they are not set up, even the baked goods (unlike the Ferry plaza bakers that make you wait drooling in line until 8am).

The market got its start during World War 2 when farmers were having problems selling their fruits and veggies (too many victory gardens).

The market started in 1943 at the corner of Market and Duboce and moved to the current location in 1947.

If you are this far and want to read a good review of the market from digital lantern, here’s the link.



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