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Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Aptos Farmers Market

Do you know where Aptos is? It's right between Soquel and Watsonville in Santa Cruz County, CA along HWY 1. Turns out I drove right past it the day I went to the Castroville Artichoke Festival.

Carl and I decided to spend our June photo adventure at the Aptos Farmers Market. You can read his recap by clicking here. I challenged myself by shooting with my 14mm lens (with no zoom) the entire morning. Along with these photos, this is everything I brought home with me. (Home photos were taken with my 14-140mm zoom because I forgot I was only using my fixed lens.)

1. Locate Zachary's 2. Sign in for a table at the back of the restaurant 3. Order 4. Eat

But first we had breakfast in Downtown Santa Cruz at Zachary's. It's one of those restaurants that's a breakfast institution. After trying their Artichoke Frittata, Hash Browned Potatoes and Molasses Bread Toast I could see why! Normally I'm not a fan of frittatas but this one was superb! It was so rich, cheesy and moist it was unlike any frittata I've ever had before. Come to think of it's the first one I've ever had. LOL I was thinking of omelets.

The Aptos Farmers Market at Cabrillo College is large and full of people! Parking is free. There are three rows of booths. We meandered through all three, twice.

66¢ for each humanely, pasture raised, organic egg.

I was very happy to find pasture raised chicken eggs from Soquel's Fogline Farms. Unlike the chickens in factory farmed egg production (that are forced to live in the dark to stimulate production, in overcrowded battery cages so small they can't even spread their wings) these chickens are able to socialize, stretch their wings, roll in dust baths and peck and scratch in open pastures. The battery chickens are typically raised in windowless warehouse style barns. Fogline's chickens? With fresh air, light and much more compassion. For that, I'm willing to pay any price, which is typically around $8 per dozen.

I try my best to be a conscious consumer.

And before you decide that's too much, consider that when you order breakfast most restaurants charge between $1 to $1.50 per egg. The majority of the time you're paying for a factory farmed egg that cost the restaurant somewhere around 12¢ to 20¢ each. So is 66¢ for an egg you cook at home really too expensive?

When I saw this vibrant berry tart I knew I had to have one. I told the woman at the booth I didn't even care what the flavor was. Turns out it was Olallieberry. It was gorgeous and delicious. I ate it in three servings over the next few days though I was tempted to eat it all at once! I wish I still had some left right now!

Malabar's Kukicha Twig Tea caught my eye. Actually their whole booth did. They had many different kinds of tea all neatly arranged in rows. I would have purchased some that day but I'd tapped myself out of cash. I promised I'd buy some the next time but, because I was considered media, I was given a sample of their organic, Kukicha, twig tea from the Uji region of Japan. This is a very pleasantly flavored tea. So peaceful, soothing and mild. It makes you want to sit outside when there's just the slightest chill in the air, clutching your cup of hot tea. For a large cup of Kukicha Twig Tea steep a tablespoon at 165ยบ for 2.5 minutes and it will come out perfect.  I'll definitely be purchasing my Kukicha from Malabar from now on.

There were plenty of beautiful heirloom carrots.

And at the Cole Canyon Ranch stand I spotted baby perennial artichoke plants. It will take two years for them to bear artichokes. The optimist in me made the purchase. I hope it survives that long.

And I didn't need onions but how could I not buy these stunning red onions? I mean really. They were crazy gorgeous and so shiny!

Yukon Gold Potatoes from Foster Ranch's Pinnacle Organics

I've also been eating more potatoes lately. I boil, smash, and fry them in just a bit of butter. It has to be healthier than deep fried as french fries. They're so tasty! And I love that the potatoes are misshapen. To me it's a testament to their organic wholesomeness.

I tried two pluot samples from Stackhouse Brothers Orchards and had to buy one of each.

There are so many food options at a farmers market! From renowned companies like Beckman's bread, Corralito's sausages and Dave's Gourmet Albacore to more unusual items like fresh Thai eggplant from KT Farms, orchid plants from Rocket Farms, and classics like fresh berries from Cortez Farms, and cherries from Minazzoli Farms, you're bound to find something you want or need. 

Paco and Bimini need new homes.

You could even adopt a cat the week I was there! Paco's owners had left him at the shelter and little Bimini kept meowing and meowing. Poor babies :( I was surprised, but happy, to see adoptable kitties at a Farmers' Market. They were there with the Friends of Watsonville Animal Shelter, a non-profit that supports the local shelter in Watsonville and Santa Cruz.

If you've never been to a farmers market before I'd definitely recommend trying one out. They're a great way to eat local, find organics and support small businesses. Just remember:

1. Go early. The best items will sell out.
2. They're usually open from 4-6 hours so make sure you get there in time.
3. Most usually close by noon or 1:00 PM.
4. Most vendors are cash only.
5. Bring your own shopping bags. Many don't offer them and those who do may charge.
6. Most in the Bay Area are rain or shine.

Aptos Farmers Market
Open year-round each Saturday
8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Cabrillo College, 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos - map
Parking: Free
Number of farmers and vendors: 80

The smartest man at the farmers market. I wish I had a little wagon to put my purchases in too. Even better would be an ice chest on wheels! That might be something I could make at Techshop. Hm, I think I have to add that to my list of things-to-make-someday.

Since today is Saturday the market just opened about an hour ago. If you have the time and are in the neighborhood you can even shop there today!

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