Since Corby Kummer waxed rapturous about the muscat grapes offered him during a trip to Napa, I've longed to try the grapes used to make that glorious dessert wine, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise. Yesterday I came upon muscat grapes being sold at a stand set halfway between 2nd and 3rd Streets on Arizona at the Santa Monica farmers market. The garrulous and friendly farmer informed me that demand for these divine grapes has faltered and that once informed that they contain seeds potential buyers turn toward the far less aromatic and less sweet flame red grapes. She has been reduced to planting only a single row of muscat vines.
The grapes are pale green, small and spherical, and often grow so close together that a bunch is a nearly solid, almost medullar mass. They were sold for $1.50 per pound, which is fairly cheap for grapes of any sort at farmers market, and will be available next week. The sign identified them as "muscatel."
A Los Angeles Times writer may write a story on the grapes and the farmer, possibly in next week's food supplement.