New Kid on the Block

As farmers markets multiplied in recent years, El Segundo city officials and civic boosters wondered, "Why not here too?" So they hired veteran managers, who recruited vendors. Last Thursday afternoon, a festive crowd packed the market's opening, on ficus-lined, small-town Main Street, festooned with balloons.

Shaun Rosendahl's hands flew almost as fast as the jets overhead as he cut samples, weighed fruit and gave change. He offered Fresno-grown Santa Rosa plums, the California classic, with sweet pink flesh, and a refreshing tang near the skin and the pit; he also had new low-acid Honey Kist yellow-fleshed nectarines--a bit bland for some tastes, but a good bet for those who don't like the acidity of traditional nectarines.

Blood oranges in July? It's possible if they're from north San Diego County, where the citrus seems to hang on the trees forever. Raul and Nora Rios of Fallbrook set up a gorgeous display of Moro bloods, Nagami kumquats and Haas and Fuerte avocados. From Oceanside, Yasukochi Farm brought cherry tomatoes, eggplants, green bell peppers and sweet Hungarian red peppers (for grilling or frying), along with cantaloupes and corn from the Coachella Valley.

Top Veg of Carson lived up to its name with a full lineup that included a bevy of lettuces, okra, fennel, Persian and Japanese cucumbers, spinach (both regular and New Zealand), Hawaiian green beans (large, lumpy, and flavorful) and intriguing black-skinned radishes, with firm, pungent white insides. Popular with Russian and Jewish customers, they're grated in salads, or eaten on black bread, for a taste of the shtetl.

El Segundo farmers market, Main Street between Grand and Holly avenues, Thursday, 3 to 7 p.m.

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