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RECAP: Frieda's Fresh Marketplace, Los Alamitos

Das Ubergeek | Jun 14, 200804:04 PM

This morning, instead of the Irvine CFM, Die Uberbaby and I schlepped (and I do mean schlepped) out to Los Alamitos to see what Frieda's Fresh Marketplace was like.


A farmer's market it isn't. It's a bunch of people who sell to Frieda's selling to the public at Frieda's prices (which are NOT cheap). There were definitely some bargains to be had, if you looked carefully, but most of the produce was more expensive than the Irvine CFM or even Henry's Marketplace in Fullerton.

The produce was of VERY high quality. I was suitably impressed -- it was arranged "food porn style", of course, so that lettuces spilled sprightly over their boxes, and there were artfully arranged piles of cucumbers and eggplants. Everything was snappy and fresh and ripe and ready for restaurant kitchens (which is where Frieda's do their business). You will not be disappointed in the produce at all.

There were several stands of vegetables, a Traditions de Provence booth, a seafood booth, several fruit booths, a flower booth, a place that sold (prepared) elotes, a booth that sold coffee and pastry (Choco-Latte, for those of you who know of their store at Garden Grove Blvd. and The City Dr.) and a booth with some spreads and dried berries. There was no meat (which is not unusual for a market), no cheese, no plants, no crafts, and no nuts.

The market included a large stand dedicated to "exotic" fruit -- kiwanos, rambutans, sapotes, cherimoyas, quinces, feijoas and the like. All shipped in from outside (mostly South America), and all out of season. I don't know why this bothered me so much, but it did. I can't claim to low-carbon shopping (I live 16 miles from the Irvine CFM and drive there every weekend), and it's not exactly ecologically responsible to drive produce from Fresno in a truck, but there's a real difference to me between that and having quinces flown in from Chile.

Like I said, it's not like every market in the state, including Whole Foods and Bristol Farms, doesn't do this all the time, and as I said, the produce was SCREAMINGLY awesome... but I was sad.

What made me even sadder was that nobody except the "featured booth" was giving samples. I'm accustomed to being able to sample the tomatoes, fruit, cucumbers, &c. that I'm going to purchase before I purchase them.

The vendors were all VERY nice and excited about this -- apparently this area was in need of a produce market (notice that I am still not calling this a farmers' market). They were all very sweet to my daughter -- one gave her a specialty banana (which she INHALED), and the nice French gentleman at Traditions de Provence, when Die Uberbaby said "bonjour" (well, close enough, anyway), gave her an almond croissant. The other shoppers at the market? Rude, rude, rude. Someone gave me the "I'm Number One" salute as they whipped into a parking spot I was going to use (because, you know, there wasn't tons of parking or anything); I had more people shove me or the stroller out of the way today than in a year at the Irvine CFM; lots of people just reaching across me to grab what they wanted.

The market seems understaffed; it seems like it took a long time to get transactions done. Mitigating this was that nearly everything was priced by the piece rather than by the pound (and those that weren't were in bags for a consistent price, such as cherries). Some of this worked to my advantage (5 ears of amazingly good corn for $4) and some didn't (50 cents per squash blossom??)

I know this seems like a negative review, and I have to say that it just isn't worth the drive (driving to Irvine from Anaheim takes less time, mostly because it's freewayable), but if you live in the area -- Cypress, La Palma, west Anaheim, Los Al, Seal Beach, Hawaiian Gardens, west Garden Grove -- it's worth checking out, if only because your next closest option for good produce is the Cerritos CFM.

The market is located on the east side of Frieda's corporate headquarters from 8 AM to 1 PM (it may be noon, so do some research before going "late") on Saturdays. Parking is in the adjacent lots in the corporate centre.

4465 Corporate Center Dr, Los Alamitos, CA

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