Quick – what’s the first thing that pops into your head when you hear those two words?
Is it the thought of locals, with rattan baskets and canvas totes full of vine-ripened produce?
… or is it the other scenario: a blocked off street, full of people selling whatever the trendy home-party goods of the month are, a guy selling insurance, a “deep-fried-on-a-stick” booth, and a Dora the Explorer bounce house?
No offense to Dora, but for a while now, I’ve been visiting various “Farmers Markets”, in search of those that live up to the name, and there are quite a few, if you know where to look.
About 6 weeks ago, I found a gem of a farmers market in Riverside. Well, actually, my friend Susan frequents it, and told me about it. So, props to you, my über-cool friend!
Located in Riverside California, Mission Inn place is worth the drive alone. It almost looks like it needs to share a property line with Hearst Castle. In any sense, they’ve got a Farmers Market every Saturday from 9am – 1pm that is an absolute cocophany of all that is good.
When I arrived there, my first stop was at the booth of a family selling gorgeous golden raspberries, red raspberries, succulent figs, blackberries, and other delicate treats. They were spectacular, and of course, I scooped up 3 basketsfull.
Not 5 minutes later, a sweet older woman was calling us to try her white peaches. Normally, I’ll gravitate to the yellow kind, because white ones are a bit on the dry side. But, she was adorable, so I grabbed a toothpick and dug in. The next thing I knew, I was wiping the juice from my chin. Oh my, oh my…so incredibly sweet and juicy! Yes, ma’am….bag ’em up!
As I kept walking, I was delighted that each booth was as delicious as the others. There were chocolate tomatoes (yes, they’re brown, cherry-sized, and quite tasty!), yellow pear-shaped tiny tomatoes (just like my Dad grows!), and gorgeous Roma tomatoes. Then I was on to the long beans, eggplant, and cauliflower.
One woman was selling all different potted herbs, and many types of succulents. A couple down the way had freshly baked bread and rolls from their bakery. A man I stopped to talk to had a cooler full of steaks from locally grown grass-fed beef (yesss!). Another man had a display of freshly caught, beautiful fish on ice, while a woman was selling mocha-colored eggs from her free range chickens.
At the corner of the market, there was a woman selling beautiful flowers of every size and shape, and her prices were VERY reasonable! Down the way, a man named Mike was selling gorgeous, healthy Plumerias.
There were 2 nice gentleman selling baklava. I know…BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAk-lava. Ohmygoodness.
I love that treat, and they had dozens of boxes of the stuff, staring me in the eye. I couldn’t….I shouldn’t…nope.
So, 5 minutes later, as I was gobbling up the food of the gods (what? you thought I’d pass it up? yeah, I try to eat healthy, but come ON….! it’s BAAAAAAk-lava!) I decided this was a vendor I’d have to visit again. Soon. (PS: I didn’t catch his name, but his bakery is located on Ball Road in Anaheim).
Walking through this wonderland of deliciousness made me wonder why people don’t get as excited about foods like I do. Perhaps it’s because they’re too busy telling their kids to get out of the bounce-house. However, it’s never too late to give it a try. I highly encourage you to step out into the land of the farmers market and see what treats await you.
Click this handy dandy link to find a California CERTIFIED FARMERS MARKET near you!
My question to YOU: Which FarmersMarkets have you visited? Do you have a favorite vendor? Tell me about your experiences in the comments section below.