It's about 10 days late, due to persistent mild weather, but peak season for stone fruit finally has arrived, with so many great choices that it's easy to go wild, especially at a large, vibrant market such as Torrance.
Several growers from the San Joaquin Valley at the Saturday market, including Ken Lee and Mark Boujikian, are bringing Flavor Supreme Pluots. They're difficult for farmers to grow, and their appearance, green blotched with red, won't win any beauty prizes, but they're the best of the early-season Pluots (plum-apricot hybrids resembling plums). For classic plums, Pritchett Farms sells excellent Santa Rosas, with tender, sweet red flesh, complemented by a distinctive wild tang in the skin.
Many favorite fruit varieties that were at their best in May from San Joaquin Valley farms are now in prime season again from the high desert, where the intense sunlight and cooler nights give fruit higher color and, some say, better flavor. Scattaglia Family Farms of Littlerock has plump Bing cherries, and aromatic Robada apricots.
Summer vegetables also are coming into full production. Vang Thao of Fresno sells five kinds of eggplant, including Japanese (black, tender and sweet), Chinese (purple, less sweet), and Filipino (brownish mauve, of intermediate sweetness). Hot peppers have been absent from farmers markets since last fall, but Smith Farms of Trabuco Canyon now offers jalapenos, serranos, Anaheims, and pasillas.
Torrance farmers market, Charles H. Wilson Park, 2200 Crenshaw Blvd., between Carson Street and Sepulveda Boulevard, Saturdays 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Hot tips: Art Lange's Honey Crisp Farm has legendary Snow Queen white nectarines, arguably the most delicious fruit in the world, with dense, buttery flesh, a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity, and a mind-boggling rich flavor, at Santa Monica Wednesday and Hollywood. Robert Poole of Redlands brings luscious boysenberries and youngberries to the same markets.
If you're anywhere near San Francisco the next two Saturdays, it's worth a special trip to the Ferry Plaza market to buy John Driver's Candycots, derived from seeds he brought back from Central Asia, the fruit's homeland. Grown in Waterford, near Modesto, they're small but twice as sweet as conventional apricots.
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