Z: I'm sure the farmers were relieved that it wasn't raining that morning so their long-distance drives would not be complicated by a downpour. It was also a relief for us not to face another day of rain after nearly a week of rainstorms. I kept thinking about the Mamas and Papas singing, "It never rains in Southern California." Most of the time that statement is right-on.
R: As we approached the market visible from Colorado Blvd., a main thoroughfare in the community, we could see the farmers' tents and cupolas from the street. A large sign along the parking lot ramp pointed in the direction of the market. We later learned that this was not the original location of the market that was not visible from the street. In our farmers market travels we noticed that most successful markets were ones that were highly visible in the community.
Z: There was no problem finding parking on this second level of the Eagle Rock Plaza. The market is in a U-shaped arrangement with two long facing rows. The market policy is to have a band each week, and they form the bottom of the U. The mellow sounds that day emanated from Speratic, a duo with Josh and Tony on keyboards and guitar. Unlike bands at many of the farmers' markets, groups at Eagle Rock 'N Roll are paid for their efforts instead of depending on contributions of listeners.
R: We're always delighted to find the South Central Farmers' Cooperative at local markets. They make an effort to deliver boxes of produce to local Community Supported Agriculture patrons who make their pickup at local farmers markets every week. Lane Goldman and Rosa Romero pointed to the 10 cartons waiting for pickup. They explained that each box contains one of everything they were selling that week.
Z: I was excited to see three varieties of kale--curly, Russian, and dinosaur. They also offered both green curly and red mustard greens. What great salad fixins' for our Aunt Nettie! The coop's table also featured red and green romaine, cauliflower, broccoli, red beets, bok choy, and colorful, colossal size China Rose radishes. Not seen often but available here was what they were calling Barnsdale spinach, or what I usually think of as New Zealand spinach. If we were in their CSA program, we would have a sampling of all these items in our box for only $15.
R: Both Lane and Rosa are Vegetarians in Paradise fans and were eager to show us all of the items available. They were heavily involved in the coop when it was located in Los Angeles and have remained active in the organization. Both are proud members of Food Not Bombs.
Z: One of the exciting discoveries for me at this market was jujube tea. Jujubes (Chinese dates) graced the table of Sang Farms from Riverside. I never realized that they could be brewed as a tea. While young Albert offered us a sample of the tea, his older brother Robin gave us directions for making it. He told us he wouldn't mind if we shared the information with our readers. So, here goes. Take one pound of jujubes and immerse the fruit in a gallon of water. Boil for one hour, and then simmer for two hours. The longer you allow it to simmer, the sweeter the tea becomes.
R: The sample he gave us was quite delicious. Their display also included three types of pears: Asian, Bosc, and Anjou and two varieties of apples: Fuji and Pink Lady. They also sold Japanese sweet potatoes, vine tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, Hass avocados, blueberries, cherimoyas, and dried persimmons. Their citrus varieties included Satsuma mandarins, blood oranges, navels, sweet lemons, pomelos, and ruby red grapefruit.
Z: Atkins Farm from Fallbrook almost mirrored the Sang Farms inventory. They had the same apples and pears, and similar citrus. Along with Satsuma mandarins, navels, blood oranges, pomelos, and ruby red grapefruit, they added Oro Blanco grapefruit, Cara Cara oranges, sweet limes, lemons, and Minneola tangerines. Both Hass and Fuerte avocados were displayed on their table as well as cherimoyas and guavas.
R: Speaking of avocados, Lucia of Pedro's Certified Organic Ranch hovered over a display featuring five different sizes of Hass avocados picked from their 31-acre, 2000-tree farm in Fallbrook. She told us about the dragon fruit they'll be selling beginning in July. The fruit comes from the pitaya or pitahaya cactus vine and is sometimes called strawberry pear. She expects their cherimoya crop will be ready during the next few weeks.
Z: Despite the heavy rains that damaged the strawberry yield, two farmers still had berries to sell: Gutierrez from San Luis Obispo and Lore's Farm from Oxnard. The strawberry du jour was Albion. Other varieties will be available later this year. Gutierrez rounded out their berry selection with raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, while introducing another seasonal specialty: an abundant crop of plump sugar snap peas.
R: Lore's not only had strawberries, but they also sold vegetables and greens. They were the only ones at the market with heirloom tomatoes. Their table was full of vivid color and impressive variety: yellow and green zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, vine tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, baby asparagus, cauliflower, artichokes, green and red cabbage, kale, cilantro, celery, red beets, carrots, and three types of lettuce: romaine, green leaf, and red leaf.
Z: Two of the growers, Arreola Farms from Oxnard and Chong's Farm from Fresno, specialized in fresh ginger along with other produce. Chong's displayed icicle radishes, yams, Japanese sweet potatoes, garlic, and onions. They also offered popular Chinese and Hmong vegetables like Hmong broccoli, Chinese eggplant, curly kale, white mustard, baby bok choy, white mustard, and mustard greens, yuchoy, green onions, rosemary, dill, and cilantro.
R: Arreola featured an assortment of baby-sized and standard potatoes. The baby bins included White Rose, Red Rose and Fingerlings, while regular-sized potatoes were Yukon Gold, Red Rose, and White Rose. I couldn't help notice the giant icicle radishes alongside the fiery red ones. Lettuce lovers had four choices: iceberg, red leaf, green leaf, and romaine that were piled high on the table next to broccoli, Brussels sprouts, red and green cabbage, beets, garlic, jicama, celery, Swiss chard, leeks, and spinach. Vegetable lovers could just about get it all at this table.
Z: Those craving mushrooms had their choice of oyster and shiitake from Rivadeneira Farm in Val Verde. This grower also presented a generous assortment of potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and garlic. They were the only source for purple potatoes at the market.
R: Normally we focus on the fresh fruits and vegetables and breeze past the craft and flea market type items. In this instance we had to watch Lily Weil tossing her splat balls on the table. It's a novelty item sure to captivate kids and immature adults like us who bought two of them.
Z: Lily's real talent is her gorgeous roses made from birch wood. Seeing is believing. They would add to the décor of any room. Of course, Camacho Flowers of Ventura offered the real thing with beautiful Asiatic and Oriental lilies, Dutch iris, carnations, asters, and chrysanthemums.
R: Zel, the real foodie, had to stop and watch Lilia of Lilia's Chilean Pebre mix up a batch of pebre. She makes this hot salsa with cilantro, green onions, Serrano peppers, lime juice, grape seed oil, and sea salt. The pebre is custom-made to order right at the market and poured into 16-ounce jars. Lilia says it will keep in the refrigerator for three weeks. If you like, she'll even blend a jar of vegan pesto for you at the market.
Z: We could have stopped to eat a lunch of vegan tamales prepared by California Tamales House from North Hills, but we had previously decided not to dine at the market that day. We had bigger plans for dinner that evening. When I looked down at the table, I was amazed to find a package of green cactus tortillas. What a discovery! The company, Nopaltilla, produces a green organic cactus sodium-free tortilla that is low in fat and calories and high in fiber.
R: This market debuted in June 2009 and is owned and operated by Philip Dane who also runs the Woodman Avenue Farmers' Market. Eagle Rock 'N Roll is affiliated with Madisons Foundation (Moms and Dads in Search of Needed Support). Madisons Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality and quantity of information available to parents of children with rare, life-threatening diseases, and to facilitating effective communication among parents, physicians and medical experts
Z: Dane, who calls his business PD Markets, claims Eagle Rock as his home town and plans to open markets in Altadena and Pasadena. He introduced us to his wife Shelly who is expecting her fourth child. Besides her role as a mother, Shelly is the official band booker for PD Markets.
Eagle Rock 'N Roll Certified Farmers' Market
Reviewed March 2010