Happy Memorial Day weekend to you all! I hope you're enjoying the early summer vibes. It's been May Grey over here but in the afternoons we get some nice sunshine.
I've been hitting my local Mar Vista Farmers Market on Sundays but this week I just couldn't wait and decided to venture to the Santa Monica Saturday Market. I've attended the Wednesday Market in Santa Monica several time with friends and with a chef I worked for previously. In my prior experiences I felt overwhelmed by the vastness and bustling people. Everyone seemed to have their routine and I didn't even know where to begin.
Years after being introduced to the markets I'm starting to understand the seasonality of produce and cataloguing it internally. Growing up grocery shopping in Southern California there was never a shortage of anything. The only seasonality I knew of was the strawberry stands in the summertime. This week I looked for spring green beans, the last of the winter citrus and noted the lack of roots.
I felt a strong self-consciousness before, not wanting to pick the wrong fruit or the wrong stand. It felt like shopping for food should be instinctive and I has somehow missed out. With the help of my restaurant experience and resources like The Art of Flavor, I've learned to step away from fear and towards trust in my senses. I followed the strong sweet smells towards ripe fruit and aromatic herbs, allowing myself to take a lap around the stands before deciding on anything.
Farmers Market shopping definitely takes more effort that stopping by Trader Joe's (which I still do regularly.) It's more planning and less certainty. It takes stamina but its worth the connection I feel to my food and myself. If you're just starting out I'd recommend just walking around a lot and taking everything in. Just buying some seasonal fruit and seeing what a local pop-up market has to offer can be a positive new experience.
I planned out a few dishes from Alison Roman's Dining In for this week and started with the Fennel and Grapefruit Salad for Sunday lunch. It was bright and more filling than I expected thanks to a very dense fennel bulb. I'll also be trying the flatbread with roasted mushrooms and a couple lentil salads this week. Follow my insta stories for more updates!