DOWNTOWN — November 26 is a significant date for the Farmers’ Market. It’s the largest, busiest, and for many people, most important market of the year as customers descend en-masse to purchase the final ingredients for their Thanksgiving Feast. Think of it as the Black Friday of sustainable food.
All the Santa Monica markets, (Main Street, Downtown and Pico) are ready to fill pantries with holiday staples and there are actually five markets between today and Turkey Day, but many customers specifically wait the final market.
“It’s the biggest market of the year,” said Jodi Low, Farmers Market Coordinator II. “The other big day is once cherries come back. Cherry season is huge because it’s so short and with the drought, it’s even shorter and sparser.”
To accommodate the flood of eager shoppers, the rules of the Nov. 26 are relaxed. Instead of waiting for the official opening time, vendors are allowed to start selling to customers as soon as the street is closed to vehicle traffic.
“It’s the only market during the year where you can start buying as soon as the vendors are ready to sell to you,” she said.
Low recommends shoppers come early and come prepared with a list.
“Know what you’re staples are that you need to buy but leave room for some inspiration because there’s so many good things,” she said. “Come early to get the best selection because it goes fast and the farmers want to sell early because they want to get on the road, and you can beat traffic that way to.”
This Nov. 26 is also a farewell for Red Bread (www.thebreadisred.com). The local baker is scaling back their business and will be leaving Santa Monica after the Wednesday market. Bezian Bakery (www.bezianbakery.com) will continue to sell on Wednesdays as will the other vendors at the Saturday and Sunday markets.
Low said customers still have time to place special orders with the bakeries for their Thanksgiving dinners and recommended customers contact the bakeries directly.
Customers that want to order pies can do so from Marcie’s Pies, operated by the Jimenez Family Farm (http://www.jimenezfamilyfarm.com/pies/pies.htm). Marcie sells at the Sunday market and customers have until Nov. 20 to order their Thanksgiving pies.
Many kinds of fruits and vegetables are available at the markets and one of the newest vendors at the Sunday market has a special recipe for Thanksgiving that appeals to carnivores and vegetarians. Zsanae Klemm, saleswoman for the specialty mushroom vendor said her recipe for a mushroom pate, hits all the right notes for the holidays.
“I wanted a unique dish,” she said. “Food is what Thanksgiving is all about. It’s a time to eat and bond with family.”
Shitake and Oyster Mushroom Pate
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup sliced shitake mushroom caps
1/2 pound oyster mushrooms
2 shallots quartered
2 tbs olive oil or butter
3 sprigs of thyme
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbs vegan cream cheese
2 tsps salt
Place the shitake and oyster mushroom pieces into the boiling water and stir to ensure all pieces are moistened and set aside.
Place shallots in a food process and pulse until well chopped.
Heat the olive oil/butter in a small saucepan over a medium-low heat. Place thyme and garlic into the pan and stir gently for about 5 minutes. Remove the thyme and scrape oil/garlic into the food processor. Pulse to combine.
Return the pan to the heat and add the walnuts. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the nuts are toasted then add to the food processor. Strain the mushrooms for excess liquid and add to the food processor. Add cream cheese and salt to the food processor and blend until the mixture reaches desired texture.