Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Santa Monica Farmers Market Panel Series - Spring 2010

Thursday evening the Santa Monica Farmers Market had its Spring 2010 quarterly panel series entitled Menu Minuet: How Chefs and Farmers keep seasonal produce on the plate while maintaining consistency on the menu. LA Weekly restaurant critic Jonathan Gold moderated a panel of restauranteurs Akasha Richmond of Akasha Restaurant in Culver City and Mark Peel of Campanile and the Tar Pit in Los Angeles and farmers Alex Weiser of Weiser Family Farms and Romeo Coleman of Coleman Family Farms.

The Weisers have been at the Santa Monica Farmers Market since its inception in 1981, when they started out by selling apples. Since then they have diversified their offerings, a strategy also employed by Coleman, which is known for their lettuces and herbs. Both farmers emphasized that offering a variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs enables them to diversity their risk and offer more unusual varieties without the danger that the failure of any one crop due to weather or customer tastes would ruin their season.

Mark Peel said that "he is too lazy not to use what is in season. With seasonal ingredients you just don't need to do a lot to them."

In the photo above Chef Mark Peel speaks with Farmer Alex Weiser while Jonathan Gold looks on.

The farmers market has expanded the range of produce available to both restaurants and consumers and many of the farmers have taken it upon themselves to introduce new varieties to the market. Cavallo Nero was virtually unknown here until it appeared at the Santa Monica farmers market. Akasha Richmond said she goes to the market to "but what we need and to buy what is new. I love buying local produce. It is fun; it makes it exciting."

Both farms featured on the panel each grow over 100 varieties of products over the course of the year. Seasonal produce means that products are only available for part of the year, although the growing season here in Southern California is much longer than in other parts of the country. As Peel said, "Peaches in July are exquisite. An epiphany. That's when summer is over, when the last peaches are gone."

1 comment:

  1. alex has some of the best goods around. his crosnes sauteed are de-lish! try to find them at hole foods.