Like a galley kitchen, the Beverly Hills Farmers’ Market is as long as 2 city blocks and is as narrow as a country road. Artisan farmers line the laneway with fresh produce, pots of herbs and citrus stands squeezing fresh juice.
The market is open every Sunday from 9 to 1 and is filled with market shoppers and I’m told, celebrities – today I don’t see any. All farmers here need to be certified local and they can only bring in to sell, what they grow. To compliment the local food, the far end of the market is full of prepared, non agriculture foods so you can shop and then have a market lunch.
My tour guide was the executive chef of the Beverly Hills Hilton, Chris O’Connel. He introduced us to some of his favourite farmers. The Beverly Hills Farmers Market is where you’ll find everything from blood oranges to rainbow carrots and many other surprises. A market lettuce gardener offered her greens from stylish whicker baskets and DeyDey’s Best Beef was grass fed, hormone free, pastured, short legged, exotic Australian cattle.
Bernard Ranches had truckload of fresh oranges and grapefruit and one giant citrus squeezer. I had a freshly squeezed orange and blood orange juice mixed – delicious! As I stood there praising the juice, owner AJ Bernard explained there are 2 sets of fruit on an orange tree and you can continually pick fruit Pokies from them for a 6 month period, depending on the variety. Each variety has their own harvest date for example Navels are in season from January to May and Valencia’s almost all year long.
The asparagus man offered his asparagus in three different sizes, 2-fingers thick, medium size and pencil sized asparagus. Harry’s Berries from Oxnard had giant strawberries. They were the first growth and so juicy, solid red throughout and candy sweet. They say it’s a special variety, Gaviota that doesn’t travel well meaning that Californians are keeping the very best for themselves. There were more farmers from honey to apple, preserves and the most interesting purple artichokes, ugly heirloom tomatoes and things I didn’t recognize.
In the food section there was everything from popcorn to panini’s and ribs. The barbecued ribs smelt wonderful and as I walked over the vendor offered me a sample. They were glorious so I ordered a rack for Jon and I to share. In a form of rib showmanship he violently but masterfully chopped the ribs with a large machete that made me jump back from the splatter of the juices. Ok the next shock was the price, I’d just paid $25 for a paper cup of ribs (I think there were 8 ribs, aughhh). Oh well, this was Beverly Hills after all.