Morsels: Market Watch
Fresh produce might lure you to the farmers market, but these prepared foods will have you returning for more.
Off the Cob
Sometimes simple is better. When visiting the Irvine Farmers Market, the comforting aroma of kettle corn lures you to an unassuming yellow tent. Inside, corn kernels transform into sweet and salty puffs with the heat of a large barrel kettle. No website or business cards can be found, just unassuming maize. While the kettle corn is great for the ride home, the charred corn, rubbed with soft butter and seasoned with garlic and salt, is meant for you to consume at the farmers market. Since you’re already holding the whole cob, no utensils are required. Think of it as a farmers market snack on the go. Plus you still have one free hand to inspect the best produce.
:: Irvine Farmers Market,
5001 Newport Coast Dr., Irvine
The Right Blend
The artisans at Antica Extra Virgin Olive Oils & Vinegars trek the globe looking for oil. They refined their selection to include olive oils from more than 50 estates. Antica is also perfecting its vinegars, which are pressed and barreled in Los Alamitos. The small-batch producer infuses white and dark balsamic vinegars with bold and unlikely flavors such as coconut, ripe peach, black cherry, dark chocolate and espresso.
The dark balsamic vinegars are prepared according to the strictest Italian traditions. The vinegar, imported from Modena, Italy, ages for 18 years and is “cooked” over an open wood fire. Much like fine wine, the vinegar is stored in seasoned wooden casks, which impart complexity and terroir. The Antica vendors tempt passersby at the Downtown Santa Ana Farmers Market with demi spoons of flavored vinegars to sample. The vinegars are complex and strikingly different from what you purchase at the grocery store. They linger on your palate without imparting an unsavory, acidic bite.
We Can Pickle That!
The Pernicious Pickling Co. started out at the Downtown Santa Ana Farmers Market, but its popularity has skyrocketed the OC company into brick-and-mortar stores across the county. Kendra Coggin and Baron Conway capture the seasons with jars chock full of locally grown cauliflower, beets and green beans. Food & Wine Magazine included the pickling pair in its annual Thanksgiving issue featuring recipes from America’s best food artisans. While sour garlic pickles, a bolder version of the classic kosher dill, are the couple’s favorite, the hotter versions are their best sellers.
The extra spicy Habanero Hottie pickles and Spicy Lean and Mean Green Beans sizzle on the plate. “Our mission when creating these two was to bring the heat without compromising on flavor, so we use three types of chili with an extra dose of garlic, dill and black pepper,” says Coggin. While we enjoy eating them straight out of the jar, Coggin has some other recommendations. “We love serving them battered and deep-fried with a cool buttermilk dip, tossed onto burgers, or pour the brine into Bloody Marys for these warm California weekends – just don’t forget the garnish!”