Last month I had the chance to visit the Vineyard Farmers Market in Fresno twice. It's a lovely setting, shaded this time of year by a grape arbor. The first time, I was there before 8:30am, and things were already quite busy at that time. My second visit was just before noon and some booths were sold out (good to see!) and getting ready to leave. It was interesting for me to see how much further ahead in the growing season the local farms are compared to my home turf in Sonoma County. Full size summer squashes, abundant berries and mature garlic vs. the preemies and garlic scapes I found at Petaluma's market the next week. Prices are also lower.
The meaty, violet-fleshed Tulare cherries from Easton were an excellent first cherry buy of the year for me. The Armenian cukes I bought wound up as an appetizer at Hunan Restaurant. I enjoyed the two raw milk cheeses from Three Sisters. I'm sorry I didn't jump into the line for strawberries from Moa Produce, and I wish I'd bought some of those chayote vine leaves. I've yet to open the packages of bastirma and soujak I bought from Ohanayan. I was happy to see nopales and calabacitas (Mexican white zucchini) offered. Heads of purple-tinged garlic were a good buy at 50¢ or $1 for three smaller heads on the stalk. The raw milk butter from Organic Pastures is my most memorable buy, dense and complex with a nutty finish, and has been a hit with my dinner guests. The kefir was also interesting, fizzy and tart with an alcoholic kick.
The baby beets took much longer to cook/soften than my usual suppliers' and even then they were still more fibrous than I'd expected. Beefsteak tomatoes looked wonderful but the greenhouse origins showed in the lack of flavor . . . my bad for wishing I could get a jump on the season. Likewise, the organic apricots from Vince's were cottony with no juice or flavor. Rustic Bakery's peach turnover looked nice, but were soggy in the middle and the teeny amount of filling was way over-sugared.
Overall, a charming market and venue with a lot of positives for this early in the summer and well worth a visit.
Ohanyan's International Deli
1335 W Shields Ave, Fresno, CA 93705
Vineyard Farmers Market
Blackstone and Shaw Streets, Fresno, CA
Organic Pastures Dairy
7221 S Jameson Ave, Fresno, CA
Three Sisters Farmstead Cheese
24163 Road 188, Lindsay, CA