Earlier this week, I was invited to help a friend work at the Farmers Market in Irvine, CA. My friend's family sells nuts grown in the San Joaquin Valley (almonds, pistachios, and walnuts). Ordinarily, her parents go but since they were on vacation, she was going to go alone. Of course, being a big fan of farmer's markets in general, I jumped at the opportunity to go!
We took our time driving down to Irvine, arriving late Friday night. We woke early Saturday morning and headed to the market. The Irvine Farmers Market is held every Saturday from 8am to noon in the parking lot across from UC - Irvine, near the intersection of Campus and Bridge. While there are other vendors, produce is the big draw here with both local and exotic produce to suit everyone's fancy.
We set up shop just two tents in from the In-N-Out drive-thru, nestled between the awesome team from Orange County Produce and the friendliest florist, Louie Cruz. Nearby were the fruit stands of Tilden Farms and Eddie's amazing nursery. And I can't forget to mention Cal-Poly, who we bartered with for the sweetest fresh squeezed orange juice I think I've ever had. Needless to say, we certainly had the sweetest spot of the entire market, in my humble opinion :)
About midmorning, I took a stroll on my own to check out the sights and sounds of the larger market area. I was amazed at the diversity of the produce, which included locally grown, organic, and Asian produce. There was an awesome tent selling hummus at 3 for $10, which you can guarantee I'll be buying next time. Roasted corn, fresh baked bread, grass fed beef and freshly caught fish... it's totally sensory overload. Being the horrible planner that I am, however, I did not plan well for my trip since I figured I'd be working more than shopping the market. Alas, below is the only stuff I scored this weekend:
I only bought from the vendors closest to us since they were (a) close and (b) so kind, but I hope to sample others in the future. For my first trip, however, I "only" came home with fresh flowers from Louie (aren't they gorgeous?), sweet organic oranges from Tilden, potted herbs from Eddie (two types of basil and cilantro), a 3 pack of berries from a vendor that's name is escaping me (raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries - oh my!), almonds and pistachios from my friend (buy one get one free... for me!), and organic dinosaur kale from Orange County Produce (which they generously gave me for free - so nice!).
Not bad for my first time, eh? Hehe. If you live in Orange County, I hope you do give the Irvine Farmers Market a try! It's considered the best of Orange County - and with good reason! Seriously, just check out Yelp if you don't believe me. :)
Until next time...