Ramble On

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Of 'Shrooms and Sprouts

The last time I was in California, in 2010, Mary couldn't join me since I was on a business trip that would eventually take me to Yosemite for a week to do some facility condition assessments for the National Park Service.  That was a cream puff assignment, and it only got better because I was able to check in with friends on the weekend before and the weekend after.  Our good friend Cathy was kind enough to put me up on that previous trip, as she did for Mary and me on this one.

As on that last trip, we decided to head over to the Mountain View Farmers Market on Sunday morning, and to enjoy breakfast at a little Turkish diner there by the train station.  Cathy reminded me that it had been an Israeli-run place back then, but it had changed ownership and seemed to be doing better in the current iteration.  (By the way, most of the posts from that last trip are here.  The Yosemite ones and some from San Francisco will be at the top of the page - you'll have to scroll down for the farmers market ones.)

This time, market was packed when we started our walk there - even though closing time was approaching.  The market basket shown in the photo was set up near the entry (the market is in a commuter parking lot near the Mountain View train station) - thanks to Cathy for sending this photo - it shows a lot of the produce available on the day we visited.

When I compare this market to the DC markets I am familiar with, the thoughts I most typically come away with are that there seem to be more booths focused not just on produce, but on value-add ag products...hence the title of the post.  There were two booths that really caught my attention this time - the mushroom stand and the sprout lady stand.

I talked to the mushroom lady for a few minutes about all the varieties.  There were many for eating, and several herbal tea types - speaking of which, I am writing from the inn in Mendocino, and yesterday I saw an offering of a coffee brewed and flavored with a sweet local mushroom.  I mentioned the big morels that my friends in Luray find in their secret hunting grounds, and the 'shroom lady nodded in approval.

The sprout lady (that is the name of her booth, I did not give her this name myself) also had a wide range of products to offer...not just alfalfa or bean sprouts.  Looking them over, I remembered my first encounter with them on a bagel sandwich in Monterey, during language school.  They are still not my cup of tea.

We browsed the produce and found a lot of items I would not have expected at this time of year - summer squash and tomatoes, but no peppers.  Maybe these came from greenhouses or from valley farms further south?

Cathy's daughter was with us, and she carefully showed us all the different fruits and vegetables that she knew of.  I asked her if we could pick out something to buy - what she would like, and she chose carrots.  We found some big beautiful bunches, and I think we got a few of the "donut peaches" for her as well.

She also talked us into getting some of the summer squash.  These were huge, like we only get later in the summer.  She picked four, and then Cathy used them in a chicken dish later on, after we had hit the road.

Speaking of value-add ag products, this market has quite a few butchers and meat stands.  The photo here is from one of the farmers that offered beef, lamb, and chicken, all pasture-raised, in addition to the pork advertised on the sign.

Mary and I still haven't made it to the Luray farmers market for our inaugural visit this year.  After seeing the Mountain View farmers market again, I'm really looking forward to it!

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