2007-08-02 13:44:01.0 Joy: Not as much as I would like to.
2007-08-02 13:44:46.0 Russ Parsons: I'm really looking forward to the opening of that market, too (I live in Long Beach, too, if you hadn't guessed). The Sunday market at the marina is very good, too. The Friday downtown seems to be languishing, though.
2007-08-02 13:45:05.0 Jen: Do you think that farmer's markets have expanded too fast across the state? too numerous? Do you think that it won't be sustainable for the newer vendors just getting established?
2007-08-02 13:45:42.0 oakmonster: L-B-C! (Well, I'm in Los Alamitos...close enough.)
2007-08-02 13:47:00.0 Russ Parsons: I think that's a real problem. I think there are too many markets and too few good farmers. As markets proliferate, they often find they have to look the other way for some things and allow farmers they might not otherwise. One of the things I'm really interested in is where markets will be in five years. I think we'll see a lot more Community Sponsored Agriculture in Southern California and I wouldn't be surprised to see the opening of some specialty produce stores that handle great small farmers (like Berkeley Bowl and Monterey Market in the Bay Area).
2007-08-02 13:47:46.0 Russ Parsons: LBC indeed! I've lived there for 15 years.
2007-08-02 13:47:56.0 Administrator2: Russ, this is a longshot, but have you ever found really good, authentic-tasting gumbo outside New Orleans? Is there anyplace closer than that where a gumbo fan can get a fix?
2007-08-02 13:49:09.0 Russ Parsons: I wish I could give you a happier answer, but not really. I know Stevie's on the Strip has a good reputation, but I haven't eaten their gumbo. Orleans used to have pretty good gumbo, in that Prudhomme kind of way. But I'm afraid gumbo and barbecue are the two places Los Angeles kind of falls short.
2007-08-02 13:49:28.0 Administrator2: Oh, man!
2007-08-02 13:49:33.0 Joy: In the summer I go to the Bellflower farmers market just to get Tennerelli's peaches.
2007-08-02 13:50:06.0 Russ Parsons: Yes, he's a really good farmer. IIRC he's also at the Torrance Saturday market.
2007-08-02 13:50:11.0 oakmonster: This discussion came up around the lunch room in the office yesterday. Russ, perhaps you could help settle. Saffron: worth the money or one can go without?
2007-08-02 13:51:26.0 Russ Parsons: Depends on how much you like it. To me, there is nothing that even comes close to replicating the flavor of saffron. it's completely itself. and so if you love saffron, you end up having to go for the real thing. but i find it pretty easy to avoid. I do like a pinch of it in a fish soup and in paella!
2007-08-02 13:51:37.0 Jen: On the subject of Q, why don't more BBQ joints smoke their ribs? Most seemed baked or grilled. is their an airquality ordinance preventing restaurantsfrom operating a proper smoker?
2007-08-02 13:52:35.0 Russ Parsons: The thing I really find objectionable is when they boil the ribs and then finish them on the smoker. It does pick up a little smoke flavor, but teh texture is just weird--falling apart tender. a good rib is tender but has a bit of snap to it.
2007-08-02 13:52:46.0 Joy: Penzey's carries a lot of interesting blends. For instance, I buy the rogan Josh one for cooking lamb. Are there any that you have discovered and could tip us off to?
2007-08-02 13:54:17.0 Russ Parsons: Hmm, I have to admit that I don't use many spice blends. I tend to put my own together to fit the dish that I'm making. And since I tend to cook French/Italian/Californian, that tends to be along the lines of black pepper/fennel/clove, etc. I keep one of those small whirly coffee grinders just for grinding spices. works great, and they cost about $10.
2007-08-02 13:54:31.0 Administrator2: More from the (e-)mailbag: When you have a dinner party, do you put out an appetizer? If so, what? I ask because sometimes I feel my guests fill up on bread and cheese before they make it to the dinner table.
2007-08-02 13:56:11.0 Russ Parsons: yes, I do make appetizers. I like dinner parties to stretch out, though. So when people come in, I'll usually have champagne or some light white wine and I'll serve some almonds and a little salame or something like that. Then we'll usually have a first course and then a main course. One thing I like to do for first courses is fix 3 or 4 different vegetable dishes and serve them at room-temperature, like salads.