Markets spring forward

In many parts of the country, farmers markets are part-time pleasures, available only during those few months when the weather is warm enough for planting and growing.Here in Southern California, we're fortunate to have markets that thrive all year round (more than 100 in the five-county area). But still, there's a special energy that comes when spring rolls around. The markets seem a little more crowded; the shoppers a little more animated. And the fruits and vegetables shine with even more intensity.There's a buzz at this time of year that comes with the arrival of the best strawberries, or the first really good tomatoes. It's not like we're crawling out from our winter hibernation, the way they may be in other places, but there's no denying that with the coming of spring we appreciate our farmers markets even more. So to celebrate, in today's section we look at a few of the many ways farmers markets and the bounty we get from them enrich our meals.

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