Look for the One Holding the Red Rose…Potato – Hollywood Farmers’ Market

colorful bell peppers
Blind dates are not part of my SOP (standard operating procedure). Not ever. But this was different, and I made an exception. This was something special, and besides, it wasn’t totally blind.

I’d been reading the blog, following the ups and downs, even the mundane daily details. It’s almost like you could know a person just by reading a blog. When a post inspired me, I’d make a shy comment every now and then. Then there was an email. Then an exchange of a few emails getting to know each other. And then, we set a time and place to meet. In person. Sunday. Hollywood. I’ll be the one holding the red rose…potato.

I was going to meet up with a fellow food blogger – Jen from Life Begins at 30. She wanted to cause all kinds of chaos at a local farmers’ market ;) and asked me to be her accomplice. How could I refuse an offer of fun like that? Especially since it is she of the worldwide August Eat Local Challenge!

We had decided on Hollywood since that was about halfway between me and the place she was staying on her visit down from San Francisco. I had done a whole week of LA farmers markets, but restricted myself to the Westside mostly because, well, during the week I have this stupid thing called a job and couldn’t be trekking all over traffic congested LA. LOL! So the Hollywood market was going to be a new adventure.

Summer is tourist high season, and Holly would be overflowing with Midwesterners in Gap t-shirts and Dockers shorts out and about by 8 am since they’re still on EST. Traffic could be a bitch, parking even worse, so I got there a few minutes early, and holy parking Gods blessing me on a Sunday morning! I found a spot right there on Selma. Incredible.

What was more incredible is how shockingly different Hollywood looks in the day light. Hollywood is a frequent delicious destination for food and other fun by night, when all you see is bright lights in the big city, glittery glam and stiletto heels. But it’s rare that I find myself anywhere within a half mile of Hollywood Boulevard when the sun is out, when it looks gray, dingy, dirty, and run-down. On Sunday morning, the streets and sidewalks are papered with leftover fliers, paper cups and garbage from Saturday night partiers. I had been to Hollywood and Highland to shop once on a weekend, and that was enough. Forty five minutes in the parking garage alone, and my vow was never again. Never.

By 10:45, the Hollywood Farmers’ Market is hopping. And by hopping, I mean I wasn’t sure how I was going to identify Jen, espepcially since I didn’t think I had it in me to go up to complete strangers and just ask “Jen?” This is Hollywood – people would think I was totally psycho. I’m sure I walked right past Jen at least twice, and there were even a couple of moments when I chickened out. I was going to sneak back out of the market, go home, and maybe send her an email about how I just couldn’t find her. But that’s not like me. I found Jen, she’s an absolute lovely peach of a person, and we were off to cause trouble. :)

hollywood farmers market, tomatoes
hot tomatoes in hollywood
hollywood farmers market, blueberries and boysenberries
tart and tangy berries

Not only is the Hollywood market busy, but it’s pretty big, too. It’s on two streets (Ivar and Selma) that intersect, naturally creating four sections. Three of the four are mostly produce and food, and the fourth section has stands from local artisans and craftspeople. Jen and I had a good time traipsing, sauntering, strolling through all the sections, pausing here and there to photograph bell peppers in technicolor that I had never seen before, taste berries tart like she likes them, remark at how incredibly red some tomatoes were or what on earth those purple things were (they were purple okra). I even learned that baby corn are real. They don’t just come canned! LOL!

hollywood farmers market, purple okra
will these make my gumbo purple?
hollywood farmers market, colored bell peppers
bell peppers in technicolor

I loved following Jen because she made me look tame in my farmers’ market pursuits. She had this enormous fancy camera slung across her body, and would whip out a tiny fuschia notebook from her purse to take notes about farmers, where they were from, and what they were selling. Jen chatted with the vendors, asking questions about how the season had been for them and probing for where exactly the farms are. I think the kinds of questions she was asking surprised and impressed the farmers, who probably never got such questions from their usual LA customers other than “Can I get a pound of those big ones back there?” She wasn’t shy about tasting the produce, even green beans! She just popped those suckers raw – and when she decided that these Blue Lakes were better than those, she pulled out her own recyclable additional bags from the bottom of her purse. The girl is a professional.

It wasn’t even noon yet and we were hot, sweating, and beginning to sunburn. The market was starting to turn into an overly crowded tourist trap, so we had to escape. Jen had a lot of stuff for her project and I walked away from the market with eggplant (sauteed with tofu for lunch during the week) and tomatoes (which I ended up eating right out of my hand like apples later that day!).

So I guess not all blind “dates” are bad.

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  • Anonymous

    Wow, that’s a pretty great main picture of the peppers, but they don’t all look like bell peppers, based on their shapes (not just the coloring). Wonder what they taste like!

  • Jennifer Maiser

    Oh my gosh, you are so funny. I was so glad to be able to meet you!

    That market was great. Definitely one of my favorite in Southern California. Really good variety of vendors – I was impressed! And the surreal-ness of it being in the shadow of the Church of Scientology building, right next to the stars on Hollywood Blvd, and in the stark daylight of Hollywood is a very — LA — experience.

    You didn’t mention the excellent Korean food lesson that you gave me … I am still excited to have learned so much in one meal.

  • sarah

    oh…dontchooworry! dong il jang write up coming soon!

    and yes yes, fun times. still thought it quite funny when that guy made us taste those itty bitty baby corn. LOL!

  • Jamie

    Hi Sarah–I wandered over here via Jen’s blog. :-)

    I bought some gorgeous red okra at our farmer’s market and was kind of disappointed to find that they turn bright green when you cook them! Who’da thunk it? BUT…I thought they were superior in taste and texture to the normal green varieties, and so I think I am going to plant red okra in my garden next year.

  • Lonesome Hero

    If I ever make it back to LA, I want a joint trip to the farmers’ market too!

  • Monkey Gland

    I lived in LA a while and only ever went to the Santa Monica Farmers Market. I was living in Santa Monica, working a block from my apartment and didn’t own a car. I never told anyone this, I feared I’d burnt as a witch (warlock, whatever…).

  • sarah

    jamie: i love okra, but i’m always scared to cook it myself at home – there’s something *ew* about that slime that oozes when you cut them. lol!

    lonesome hero: on a break from your trip! well, you will most definitely have AWESOME farmers’ market access in the bay area, too :)

    monkey gland: (i love that name) i cannot believe you could survive in la WITHOUT A CAR!!! actually, when i was working at ucla, i could have lived without a car…i took the big blue bus to work, and if you were in santa monica, i’m sure you were close enough to restaurants and some fun nightlife :)

  • Rachael

    Ha ha, welcome to my hood in all its dingy grandeur. When I first relocated east of the 405 (gasp!) I actually woke up early my first Sunday and walked there…big mistake, as the um, “local talent” were still all out cruising for gigs. (LOL) From then on I drove. Gas prices be damned and I promise, parking is never a problem.

    :-)

  • Rachael

    I go every single Sunday without fail actually…bright and early. I only have trouble parking when I go later in the day.

  • purse

    Runaway surfing. I have no idea what I am looking for today. No chat rooms today. Just looking. purse websites are my thing today. So, have a cool day. Nice site, blog whatever. Going to surf some hat, purse, and shoe sites now.

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