What: Heart of the City Farmers' Market
When: Weds., 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Fri., 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m., & Sun., 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: UN Plaza (above the Civic Center Bart station)
Heart of the City Farmers' Market started 30 years ago with just 15 farmers present, and has since grown into a large independent non-profit organization that has donated more than $50,000 to the community since its conception. When I ventured to the market last Wednesday, I expected to find primarily inexpensive produce. What I found instead was a hoard of overly eager new farmers excited to share their unique creations.
Heirloom Tomato Blends from Balakian Farm
I was greeted at Balakian Farm's booth by a cheerful man handing out samples of heirloom tomatoes covered in vinegar, garlic and sea salt. These organic tomatoes are sold in red, yellow, and orange at $2.50 per pound. Balakian Farms also offers a healthier replacement to factory processed canned tomatoes: Organic Blended Heirloom Tomatoes ($10 per 16 oz jar or $14 per 32 oz jar). Though only the Yellow Roman, Orange Strawberry, and Pink Oxheart varieties were offered at this particular market, the farm also produces Green Zebra, Marvel Stripe and Cherokee Purple. These blends can be used as a base for sauces, soups, sautes and meat dishes; or as one woman told me before she wished me "happy eating," they can also be thrown in with Grey Goose on the rocks and some diced jalapeno. Um, yum.
Achadina Cheese Company's California Crazy Curd
I then stumbled upon Achadina Cheese Company, a family-run adventure full of cheese-loving enthusiasts. They produce California Crazy Curd which combines fresh curd with a variety of different flavors to create wild morsels of cheesy goodness. Herbs are used for Herbie Curd, garlic for Lonely Goat, sweet mesquite for Smokin Goat and cayenne and crushed red chilli peppers for Hot Hilda. If you don't want to brave these flavors, you can also stick with the plain Mellow Yellow curd. Containers run $6 each or $5 each if you purchase more than one.
Antiquity Juice Company's Cosmic Rain
My last great find of the day was Antiquity Juice Company, local and organic juices sold at $2.50 per 8oz. bottle or $5.00 per 16 oz. bottle. The products are raw and 100% vegan. Juices include Tropical Mist (orange juice, banana, chard, pineapple), Natural Beets (beets, apple juice, strawberry, and Swiss chard), Hemp Apple Seed (raw hemp seed, apple juice, kale, key lime, and ginger) or my personal favorite, Cosmic Rain (orange juice, blueberries, and dandelion greens).
If you're you're looking to indulge in some wacky cheeses, uniquely flavored juices, or simply need to spice up your Sunday bloody Mary with an epic heirloom tomato mixture -- venture to Heart of the City Farmers' Market at UN Plaza on Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday.