California Eggs in O.C.—Trickier Than It Seems

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Do you keep chickens? I know the practice has grown a lot in what we canyon dwellers think of as “regular” neighborhoods. It’s long been part of the canyon fabric. I used to keep chickens myself, not to say that old timers are the only ones in the game—newer residents are among the most enthusiastic chickenkeepers in the neighborhood. (I should also add that, as a mere 18-year resident, by canyon standards I do not qualify as an old-timer.)

I benefit from this: My neighbor Susan Piazza, who moved to Trabuco Canyon a year ago from Newport Beach, has educated herself as thoroughly about chickens as she already was about the luxury real estate that is her actual profession. She’ll message to say she’s left eggs for me “behind the oak.” Behind the Magic Oak, is how I interpret this—it must be magic, judging by the beautiful half-dozens I find there, often with the ethereal blue-green shells laid by Aracauna hens.

With eggs, as with other ingredients, I’m about best available, and when I have them in the fridge, Susan’s are definitely that. I insist on California eggs, which seems pretty broad until you look closely. The “CA SEFS (Shell Egg Food Safety) Compliant” you see on every carton of eggs sold here doesn’t mean the eggs were produced in California, only that the supplier abides by state standards—for cage size, among other things—that went into effect Jan. 1, 2015. Some cartons bear the California Fresh Egg logo, but not all producers in the state belong to that trade group. You might see other info… packed in a California city, distributed by a company with a California address—neither guarantees California origin.

Fortunately, great local alternatives exist for those lacking a Magic Oak around the corner. I have a few I depend upon, and I know other good ones exist—please add your favorite California egg source in comments.

Temecula’s La Bahn Ranch is my go-to at any of the three O.C. farmers markets they frequent: Thursday Costa Mesa, Friday Laguna Hills, and Saturday Irvine. La Bahn sells brown and white eggs in various sizes and package count—I usually go for extra-large, but I notice many buyers asking for their jumbos. I also love La Bahn’s fresh, free-range chickens, which tend to be 3 pounds and under—the perfect size for a Zuni treatment, where gigantic commercial chickens just don’t work. And if you miss the market, La Bahn eggs are sold at Electric City Butcher in Santa Ana’s 4th Street Market.

Meños Organic, a Riverside farm that’s one of my favorites for any type of produce, also has terrific eggs. They’re at several O.C. markets—most recently, I bought from them at Tustin’s Wednesday market. No mention of Meños should fail to call out their carrots, as a single example of excellence, which will change your mind, if it needs changing, about what a carrot can be. SO good.

My favorite non-farmers market source is OC Poultry & Rotisserie in Anaheim. This tiny, bright shop sells flats of 20 Chino eggs in your choice of white or brown. While at OC Poultry, don’t miss getting a bánh mì, and do add an egg to your sandwich. Or, take home a whole bird—the chicken they use in sandwiches and plate meals is also fresh from Chino, and is in my opinion the best-in-category rotisserie chicken, by a huge margin. OC Poultry & Rotisserie, 2117 E. Ball Rd., Anaheim, 714-780-0225.

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