The Santa Barbara Saturday Farmer's Market is the market I grew up attending. It's where I first fell in love with tender Medjool dates, crunchy pistachios, luscious avocados, gerber daises of every color and tiny, incredibly sweet, Gaviota strawberries. Join me as we stroll through aisles, overflowing with the abundance of Southern California produce.This year-round Saturday Market, held in downtown Santa Barbara, is about as friendly, pleasant and delicious as a market can get. It's hard to believe that in early March, when so much of the country is bundled in their down jackets and double socks, I'm strolling these colorful stalls in flip flops, sampling slivers of cherimoyas and knocking back blueberries from my basket.
It's a always summer in Southern California, and the juicy fruits are a testament to the warm weather. When I lived there, I fantasized about seasons, now that I'm gone, I'm searching for a reason to bring me back to this produce Eden. It's a spectacular way to spend a Saturday morning, a must-do, if you are visiting this darling little town by the sea.
Shopping List of Market Specialties:
• Earthtrine Organic Farm is based in Ojai, and sells flavorful, not often-seen herbs such as chervil, ruby streaks, mizuna, horseradish, chamomile flowers, lovage and intense mustard-family plants. Mike, one of the purveyors, will make you smile with a joke as he hands back your changed.
• Santa Barbara Pistachios will make it impossible for you to buy the jewel-like nuts anywhere else. I'm a particular fan of the onion garlic flavor.
• Good Land Organics grows cherimoyas, the custard-like fruit with large black seeds, locally. These fruits are becoming more and more popular in Southern California, and I'm grateful to have found a perfectly ripe cherimoya to serve as an afternoon snack to my guests.
• Fair Hills Apple Farm manages to sell crisp, flavorful apples almost all year round at the Santa Barbara Farmer's Market. It's a real treat to visit their organic farm out in Paso Robles, Ca.
Have you visited this delightful market? What did you think of it?
• Visit the Market: Santa Barbara Farmer's Market
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)