Among Orange County farmers markets, the newish Newport Beach Farmers Market is pretty special. Certainly its setting contributes a lot—the slice of a yacht-rich marina’s blue water peeking through the end of the Eurostyle shopping corridor is pretty idyllic. A pet-friendly Dog Zone along one side (look for the signs) adds a certain je ne sais quoi as well.
But for me, the proof’s in the pud, farmers market-wise; there must be superlative produce. Under market manager Mark Anderson’s curatorship, supplying some of the pud is Pudwill Farms, a berry grower heretofore unseen in OC. I got some stupendously flavorful raspberries, no mean feat in my experience, even at farmers markets, and the blueberries and blackberries making up the balance of the three-pack were similarly superior.
Same applies to McGrath Family Farm — well-known, respected, beloved by lucky Los Angeles County farmers marketers, chef and nonprofessional alike, unavailable to OCers before appearing here. Gorgeous veg in wide variety—I scored a fabulous Red Kuri squash the other week, a hard-to-find favorite I haven’t seen at an OC farmers market in years and years.
Red Kuri, known in French as potimarron, has deep orange fiberless flesh and edible skin, and does, I swear, taste like its eponym, chestnut—kuri and marron in Japanese and French, respectively. An extraordinary squash, good for so many things.
I took pastry chef/author/food blogger David Lebovitz’ advice for roasting it sliced in crescents, a preparation that really pointed up the namesake flavor, and dare I say evoked a hint of marron texture as well. I’ll be doing the potimarron soup from Dorie Greenspan’s new “Around My French Table” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010) right quick here, too, on ToOC.
Pristinely fresh and crisp turnips also from McGrath were sort of best-in-category, too—I love a veg that comes with its own bonus greens.
“Santa Monica South” is what pomologist and LA Times writer David Karp dubbed the NBFM, when I met up with him there one Sunday last month, referring to the iconic Wednesday Santa Monica market where these premium sellers are a familiar sight. (Read David’s “Market Watch” writeup of the visit.)
Parking is wonderfully easy here, too—SO not always the case at farmers markets. The parking structure on the corner of Via Oporto is free for an hour if you enter before 11 a.m.
Newport Beach Farmers Market, 3400 block of Via Oporto, Sundays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Find NBFM on Facebook, too!
(OCFoodNation.com has a list of of all Orange County farmers markets, their schedules & locations.)