Dec 2006

Santa Monica Market

If you're looking for a reason to love L.A., go to a farmers' market. There are three a week in Santa Monica, one on Friday in Venice, and countless others throughout the city. The Wednesday market on Arizona and 2nd is the largest within a 12-minute bike ride for me, and focusses mostly on local organics. You can find everything from fresh mission figs to fuyu persimmons, first press walnut oil, spaghetti squashes, giant buttery reed avocados, heirloom tomatoes, greens, flowers and Hare Krishna chanters. Local restaurant chefs, vegetarian and non, do their shopping here.

Saturday's is almost as large, and has a lot of the same vendors.

The Sunday market on Main St. is the best scene going. Not only do farmers turn out to sell their bounty, local craftspeople sell handmade clothing and one-offs, restaurants set up tents and serve brunch on biodegradable plates with biodegradable forks and knives to the hipsters who lounge on the grass in front of the jazz band belting out tunes while kids dance and pregnant, glowing 40-something women show off their healthy California bodies.

The Friday market in Venice, though, is my favourite. It's just around the corner, and has a wonderful unpretentious down-to-earth atmosphere. It reminds me of small farmers' markets in Paris and Provence. It's compact, and can be navigated quickly if you need to, though people seem to have all the time in the world to linger and chat about food, cooking techniques, politics, business and travel. The best falafels can be found here at Mama's, but you have to get there early because one particular (hungry) woman shows up every week and cleans them out. It took me three Fridays to finally score. The best plan is to skip coffee at home because you can get a fabulous soy latte right across from Mama's after you've made your first stop for falafels, hommus, spicy olives, organic olive oil and baba ghanoush.

If you're looking for a reason to love L.A., go to a farmer's market, pick up a huge meaty globe artichoke, take it home and steam it for 45 minutes with some organic olive oil and crushed garlic, then suck the sunshine from its heart and wash it down with a bottle of better than decent two dollar Californian cabernet from Trader Joe's. Mmmmm.

Christmas Parade in Venice

canals parade

Christmas, Venice-style. Take along a snifter of scotch to raise your spirits, and say hello to the "Silver Surfer" as he paddles under your bridge to the delight of his mother-in-law, who somehow convinces him every year to take to the canals in his wet suit wrapped with tinsel, his face painted silver and his head adorned with a Santa hat.