Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Farmers markets

SEE-LA hires new executive director

The nonprofit organization that runs the Hollywood farmers market and six others, Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles, has hired a new executive director

The nonprofit organization that runs the Hollywood farmers market and six others, Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles, has hired a new executive director.

James W. Haydu, who is currently chief development officer of the Mar Vista Family Center and who worked from 2006 to 2011 as director of communications, policy and marketing for Pike Place Market in Seattle, will start Aug. 27, according to a SEE-LA news release.

The position became vacant in April when Pompea Smith, who founded the Hollywood market in 1991 and served for many years as SEE-LA’s executive director, was fired by the group's board.

This came after a tumultuous year in which the organization faced financial difficulties and a struggle over street closures with the neighboring Los Angeles Film School, which threatened to force the Hollywood market to move from its site. (Earlier this month, the Hollywood market received its street-closure permit from the city, so it is secure in its location for the next year, Michael Woo, chairman of SEE-LA’s board, said in a recent phone conversation.)

A SEE-LA board committee reviewed 80 applicants before selecting Haydu, who offered experience in both the farmers market and nonprofit worlds.

Haydu "combines the main qualities we were looking for: ability to lead and manage an energetic staff, financial acumen, expertise in nonprofit fundraising, a vision about the future of food and markets, and a passion for bringing farmers and urban consumers together," Woo said in the press release.

Haydu, 44, was born and raised in the Central Valley and graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in liberal arts and political science. He succeeds Brenda Zamzow-Frazier, a consultant who served as SEE-LA’s interim head for the last four months.


Daily Dish gets a new address

Test Kitchen video tip: Choosing a bread wash

Twitter #Weekendeats highlights: Who needs a brownie?

-- David Karp

Photo: The Hollywood farmers market on July 22. Credit: David Karp

Market Fresh: White-fleshed peaches and nectarines

If white peaches are a little too firm when you buy them, give them a day or two at room temperature to ripenOnce a rarity, white nectarines have become popular in the last 15 years or so. But most modern varieties are what plant breeders call sub-acid -- they taste simply sweet. But get an old-fashioned farmers market variety like a Snow Queen or a Stanwick and you've got one of the most amazing fruits of late spring, intensely sweet but with enough acidity to be interesting and layers of flowery peach flavor. The best white nectarines tend to come early in the summer harvest cycle.

Another type of white-fleshed stone fruit has become more popular lately. Whether you call them Saturn, donut, bagel, saucer or peento, demand for these flat, white-fleshed peaches is going over the moon. Though white nectarines were uncommon not long ago (only about 50 tons were sold in 1996), sales more than doubled between 2000 and 2005 to a whopping 4,000 tons. Why? Partly because they look so cute, of course. Beyond that, they are very sweet, nearly candy-like, with low acidity and white melting flesh. Saturn peaches are descended from an old Chinese variety called peento or pan-tao (translating rather prosaically to "flat peach"). There are also flat nectarines, though they are not yet as plentiful.

How to choose: Select white-fleshed peaches and nectarines as you would any other stone fruit: They're ripe when they give slightly to the touch and are extremely fragrant. The best varieties of white-fleshed nectarines do tend to be cosmetically challenged, prone to scabbing and cracking, so don't let the appearance put you off.

How to store: If the peaches or nectarines are a little too firm, leave them at room temperature for a day or two, and they'll finish ripening. When ripe, they should be stored in the refrigerator, unless you're going to eat them quickly.

How to prepare: To play up the striking color of the flesh, don't cook white peaches or nectarines (they'll turn brown). Instead, cut them into chunks, sugar them lightly and serve them on a shortcake with plenty of whipped cream.

-- Russ Parsons

Photo: White peaches. Credit: David Karp / For The Times

Market Fresh: Santa Rosa plums

Luther Burbank was one of the most prolific plant breeders ever, responsible for developing the russet potato that bears his name as well as more than 800 varieties of fruits and vegetables. But while he is probably best remembered for that potato -- it and its progeny are still the most widely planted varieties in the world -- fruit lovers would argue that his crowning achievement was the Santa Rosa plum. Introduced in 1906, the Santa Rosa is still the gold standard for farmers market plum flavor, though it has fallen out of favor commercially. As late as the 1960s, the Santa Rosa still accounted for more than a third of California's plum harvest; now it has dropped to only a percent or two, as growers have abandoned it in favor of bigger, firmer fruit. Fortunately, they are still available at farmers markets. And after you bite into a rich, tangy Santa Rosa, almost anything else tastes insipid.

How to choose: Santa Rosas should be slightly soft and fragrant. If there are white spots on the skin, don't worry. Those are just naturally occurring yeasts that have collected there. Actually, it's a good indicator that the fruit hasn't been overhandled.

How to store: If they're a little too firm, leave plums at room temperature for a day or two and they'll continue to ripen. Once they're fully ripe, refrigerate them.

How to prepare: Plums make terrific crisps -- chop them, sweeten them with a little sugar and toss with a little flour or cornstarch to thicken the juices. Put the plums in a baking dish and top with a crumbly mixture of ¼ cup butter, ½ cup flour and ¼ cup sugar that you've cut together in a bowl or in a food processor. Bake at 350 degrees until the fruit is melted and fragrant and the topping has browned and crisped.

-- Russ Parsons

Photo: Santa Rosa plums. Credit: Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times

The aperitif hour: Fava beans and pecorino

FavasThis time of year, when fava beans are in season, one of the easiest snacks with a glass of wine is the classic fava beans and pecorino. In Rome right now outdoor market stalls display heaps of the fat green pods. And on May Day, legions of Romans will head out to the countryside for a picnic that includes raw fava beans and pecorino Romano.

I’ve got a bed of fava beans growing in my garden right now, but they’re easy to find at the farmer’s market, too. Serve them in the pod heaped on a platter. The idea is to sit around drinking a crisp cool white, shelling the beans, sprinkling them with sea salt and popping them into your mouth. Alternate with bites of pecorino. That sharp saltiness against the slightly bitter grassiness of the beans is wonderful with Sauvignon Blanc. I like one from Venica & Venica in Friuli.

A friend who grew up outside Rome told me that in spring his grandmother would make cacio e pepe (spaghetti with pecorino and cracked black pepper) with fava beans. Sounds good to me.

Continue reading »

New Altadena farmers market starts in May

Drake Family Farms will sell goat cheese

The Institute of Domestic Technology announced that the Altadena farmers market is set to launch May 30 at Loma Alta Park. The weekly Wednesday market will operate from 3 to 7 p.m., sponsored by Altadena Heritage and managed and operated by the Institute of Domestic Technology, a new organization that cites as its purpose reigniting "the passion of how we make food, the ingredients we source and the farms on which they originate."

The confirmed list of farmers at the market thus far: Shu and Debby Takikawa's "The Garden of..." for organic produce; Kenter Canyon Farms for greens and herbs; L.A. Bread Bakers, which will grind fresh Sonoran wheat flour on a bicycle–powered grain mill at the market; Suncoast Farm for beans, Brussels sprouts, artichokes and cauliflower; Backwards Beekeepers for honey; and more. Plus Plow & Gun, an Altadena-based coffee roaster, and Drake Family Farms' goat cheese. 

Other vendors will include Big Mista's BBQ, Mother Moo Creamery, Sqirl Jams and Cast Iron Gourmet. 

Loma Alta Park, 3330 Lincoln Ave., Altadena.


Endive, tangerine and kumquat salad

New Autry farmers market to open in Griffith Park

Photo: Drake Family Farms' goat cheese will be available at the new Altadena farmers market. Credit: David Karp / Los Angeles Times

New Autry farmers market to open in Griffith Park


A weekly farmers market is coming to Griffith Park at the Autry National Center, known for its museum of the American West. Across from the L.A. Zoo, Griffith Observatory Satellite and the Municipal Golf Course, the farmers market kicks off on Saturday, April 28, from 8 a.m. to noon, with about 16 local and organic farmers, including Tutti Frutti Farms, Underwood Family Farms and Avila & Sons Farms. 

Food vendors such as Milkman Artisan Cheeses, Homeboy Bakery, Novy Ranch, Cobblermania and Longshot Espresso will offer gourmet cheeses, hummus, honey, almond butter, coffee and more. And Heirloom LA, Global Soul and the Crepe Kitchen will be there with their prepared foods. 

Autry members get a 10% discount when they show their membership card at any of the vendor booths.

4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, www.theautry.org. 


5 questions for Josh Graves

Foie gras while you can at Melisse

Culinary SOS: Julienne's shaved asparagus salad

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: The Autry National Center courtyard. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

Pompea Smith is out at Hollywood Farmers Market


Pompea Smith, who has led the Hollywood Farmers Market since she founded it 21 years ago, was fired Tuesday night. A statement issued by the board of Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles, the nonprofit organization that runs the market and seven others in Los Angeles, reads: “The board of directors has decided that, in the best interests of SEE-LA and the communities it serves, it is time for a change of leadership.”

The 12-member board has appointed Brenda Zamzow-Frazier, a consultant, to serve as interim chief executive until a search for a permanent head is concluded, the statement added. Smith, who is in her early 70s, founded the Hollywood market in 1991 and established SEE-LA in 1994. Renowned for its wide selection of produce and lively street scene, the Hollywood Farmers Market is the largest in Los Angeles, with about 150 vendors.

As its neighborhood gentrified over the last two decades, the Hollywood market’s financial success enabled SEE-LA to subsidize its venues in low-income areas such as Watts and Central Avenue. The tough economy of the last few years challenged this model, however, according to an analysis sent to the board in early March by Essergy Consulting, which added that “SEE-LA may require … a more transformational and inclusive management style.” The document also mentioned the need to attract “a younger, ‘hipper’ crowd” and to make more use of social media.

After leading the Hollywood market to victory last July in a struggle over a street closure with the Los Angeles Film School, Smith was surprised that the board would let her go. “I don’t know why they took this turn,” she said. “They could have given more guidance.” Michael Woo, chair of SEE-LA’s board, declined to elaborate on the reasons for the change, but did say that “it was an extremely difficult decision.”


Perry, as in fermented pear juice 

An egg, any way you slice it

Test Kitchen tips: Slashing fish

-- David Karp

Photo: Pompea Smith. Credit: David Karp.

To market, to market: Shopping bags at Lost & Found

Bag1 (1 of 1)Ever on the lookout for market bags, I found two new ones at the kitchen store that’s part of Lost & Found in Hollywood. If you’ve never checked out this sweet little complex of five side-by-side stores, now’s the time. The Green Kitchen is filled with covetable items for the home and kitchen. But don’t think fancy juicers or complicated gadgets. Owner Jamie Rosenthal prefers to stock up on linen tea towels, handwoven table runners and thick linen napkins from Eastern Europe. She’s got handsome cutting boards, olive wood mortar and pestles, terracotta bowls and glass “keeping jars” for dry goods. 

She also has an unusual array of baskets and bags for the farmers market or grocery store. The new cotton bags printed with the image of leeks or scallions are light enough to fold up in your purse and have at the ready whenever you need them. The leek bag is long and skinny, Bag2 (1 of 1) just perfect for celery, rhubarb, cardoons or leeks. Admittedly, it’s kind of specialized just because of its shape.

The mother of all market bags is this one in an African-inspired fabric, big enough to carry an entire week’s  groceries. Very tall people need only apply, though. When I picked up this beauty, I couldn’t carry it, even empty, without dragging the bottom on the floor. Maybe stilts?

Leek bag, $35. African print bag, $195. Available at Lost & Found, 6320 Yucca St. (at Vine), Hollywood; (323) 856-0717; lostandfoundshop.com/


Is your coffee Handsome?

It's Taco Tuesday at Arturo's

Dear Mr. Gold: Dinner without a face

-- S. Irene Virbila


Photos: Market bags from Lost & Found. Credit: S. Irene Virbila / Los Angeles Times.

5 Questions for Tara Maxey

Tara Maxey 600

Tara Maxey is co-owner of Heirloom LA, a catering company that specializes in fresh pasta and local ingredients. The former wardrobe stylist studied pastry under Suzanne Griswold of Spago and also worked with Cake Monkey Bakery's Elizabeth Belkind. Since opening in 2009, the catering company has wowed Angelenos with its "lasagna cupcakes," added a food truck to its repertoire and is now in the process of opening a tasting room in Eagle Rock.

What’s coming next on your menu? Our holiday menu! Every Monday my dad sets out for McGrath Family Farms in Camarillo to pick up any of their overages. This year they provided us with roughly 8,000 pounds of strawberries, which forced us to come up with a lot of flavor combinations for jam (my favorite: lavender and rosemary), as well as learn how to utilize a dehydrator (strawberry dust maintains its color and flavor). Now we're getting in a gorgeous array of pumpkins and squash that boldly point out the season and possess arresting shapes and stunning hues and flavors that you would never find in corporate agriculture. We're classically pairing these organic beauties with brown butter and sage or vanilla and using them for fillings in our lasagna cupcakes, agnolotti and shepherd’s pies ... and cocktails!

Latest ingredient obsession? Bitters because they scare me. We've been making a lot of cocktails for ourselves over here at Heirloom, something we like to call "research and development," and it occurred to me that bitters, like most extracts used in baking, taste corrosive on their own but have the power to really bring out a different layer to what they are teamed up with provided they are applied well. I'm certain I am not the first person to think about using bitters in baking, but it's a new frontier to me so I am currently obsessed with figuring them out and making them in house.

What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again? D.J. Olsen prepares a Monday Supper at Lou, executing a three-course chef's tasting menu that is intensely farmers market driven and never disappoints. He finds so much joy in his job and you can taste it. I'd love to say that's where you'll find us each week, but our food truck is at Silverlake Wine on Mondays so it's tough to get away. We do, however, run into D.J. every Wednesday at the Santa Monica farmers market, which is always so inspiring because he rolls with this janky cart full of broken boxes piled on top of one another making you wonder what is up with this guy but on closer inspection you see that he’s accumulated the most coveted produce of the market, which tempts me, every time, to swashbuckle him down to the ground so I can steal his lot, but he’s just so nice, I could never.

What’s your favorite breakfast? A strong yet nuanced cup of joe with a few nibbles of several buttery pastries prepared with superb ingredients and a light hand. Right now, Proof Bakery in Atwater Village is fitting that tall order.

The last cookbook you read – and what inspired you to pick it up? Due to a resume void of culinary school I have amassed an unreasonable amount of cookbooks to quiet any throbbing insecurities that may bubble up and obstruct my to-do list for the day. My favorite is Claudia Fleming's "The Last Course" even though I don’t have this one. It's out of print and out of my budget but I’ve managed to Xerox certain pages of it, most notably her macaroon recipe, which is unrivaled. Santa, I’d like the hard copy.


Sherbourne opens in West Hollywood

L.A. Times Holiday Cookie Bake-Off

Torchons, or kitchen cloths from France

--Caitlin Keller

Photo credit: George Simian

Hotel Erwin's newest addition, Barlo, opens Thursday

Barlo 005 600

The Hotel Erwin has opened its newest restaurant addition, Barlo, located on the ground floor of the Venice hotel. Barlo offers hotel guests and locals a laid-back setting to sip on refreshing cocktails and munch on reasonably priced eats before or after heading to the beach.

Executive chef Jason Wiggin and food and beverage director Ryan Wingo have created a seasonally changing menu with not comfort food per se but comforting food using organic ingredients. The menu includes plates such as a purple kale salad, shrimp and grits, pork belly buns and beet pickled "deviled" eggs; bar snacks include anchovy puffs, truffle frites and bacon caramel corn; daily changing desserts; house-made ginger ale; and seasonally driven libations including the Porch Swing with Hendricks gin, gooseberry preserves, watermelon juice and lemon and the Disappear with Tito's vodka, Clear Creek pear brandy and house-made sour syrup.

A brunch menu is in the works, and winter-inspired drinks -- Bourbon with apple butter -- are expected to pop up on the cocktail menu come November.

Barlo at Hotel Erwin, 1697 Pacific Ave., Venice, (424) 214-1063, barlovenice.com.

Barlo 019 600


Italian marroni chestnuts available from Correia Farm

'Food and the Art of Consumption' exhibition

Tacos Clarita lives!

-- Caitlin Keller

Photos: From top, Barlo at Hotel Erwin and shrimp and grits. Credit: Caitlin Keller / Los Angeles Times


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


Recent Posts
5 Questions for Thi Tran |  August 6, 2012, 8:00 am »
SEE-LA hires new executive director |  July 31, 2012, 9:34 am »
Food FYI: Actors reading Yelp reviews |  July 31, 2012, 9:16 am »
Test Kitchen video tip: Choosing a bread wash |  July 31, 2012, 6:04 am »



About the Bloggers
Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.