Exploring Farmer’s Markets In Our Own Backyard!
As the weekend fast approaches in Newport Beach, I morph into planning mode. I gather my favorite recipes for the coming week, grab my market bags, and head out to my local Farmer’s Market. I resist a traditional “shopping list” on purpose. I want to experience all that the market has to offer, and let that drive my selection of what ingredients to purchase. It is all an adventure… from the sights of the morning rise, fragrant fruity smells, to the delicate touch of produce. In summer-time, I anxiously await the wafting scent of farm fresh peaches, to touch the freshly wrapped bread with the cranberries and walnuts peeking out, and feast my eyes on the micro-blends and parade of olive oils and balsamic vinegar I can splash on my salads & vegetables. The flower stands always have me daydreaming of that next dramatic centerpiece. And as our warm weather fades to fall—these same markets take on a whole new palate of color, produce and plantings to entice my sensibilities.
Market days in Newport Beach are held on both Saturdays and Sundays, which is a bonus for those of us with busy weeks, last minute dinner guests and unpredictable schedules. Here is the inside track on both markets, as well as a quick update on a monthly artisan market that is indeed starting to make a name for itself here in Newport.
Seasonal Offerings From The Farm This Month
During the month of August, farmers are bringing in many delicious items! Here are some of my favorites: blueberries, strawberries, grapes of every color, juicy white nectarines, peaches, artichokes, sweet corn, beets, green beans, heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, leeks, basil, lettuce and micro-greens, and kale.
Corona del Mar Farmer’s Market
Saturdays from 9:00am-2:00pm
Just west of Pacific Coast Highway at Marguerite Avenue in CdM is a perfect corridor of parking lots that are transformed at sunrise to create a strolling pathway of market envy from one end to the other. One by one, the market unfurls—-awakening to a quaint “neighborhood market” in every sense of the word. Many of the customers are greeted by name as their weekly selections are passed, like cards in a quick game of twenty-one. On this fine day, the market featured 25 vendors, including 8 different farms all providing exceptional fruits and vegetables. Other vendors were offering: fresh fish, beef & sausage, baked breads galore, olive oils & balsamic vinegar, fresh mushrooms of many types & truffle oils, pistachios and almonds, hand-crafted soaps, French market baskets, herbs and succulents, as well as a wide variety of flowers. Prepared foods included: kettle corn, gourmet tamales, juices, homemade salsa (eight varieties), pesto (numerous choices), as well as Italian pastas, sauces and dessert items from a local restaurant and wholesaler. My head was spinning with ideas from my basket of treasures.
Via Lido Farmer’s Market
Sundays from 9:00am-2:00pm
Driving toward Balboa Peninsula, Via Lido is to the left, just past the bridge. Finding my way to Via O’Porto, a surprise awaited me. This charming brick-lined street was framed by large trees and quaint shops. It has an “old world charm” reminiscent of European markets. On this morning, there were 22 vendors on deck, and in contrast to the Saturday CdM market, this market has many other types of vendors. In addition to the wonderful produce stands, there was: a food truck, a juice bar, a Greek gyro bar, artisan cheeses, humus & olives, a salt bar (from smoky, Himalayan to rosemary), bakery and granolas, gourmet jams, salsas & pestos, fresh honey, breads, organic olive oils & balsamic vinegar (from a farm in the Sierra Nevada foothills), and beef, lamb, turkey, duck, rabbit (and special orders can be brought to market day). In addition there were other artisan offerings, including: dog treats, handmade greeting cards, adorable succulents in antique wood & wire bird-houses, candles & diffusers, and creative painted signs decorated with sea glass on bare wood. This market is also giving back. They participate in SproutsofPromise.org which is a non-profit organization that educates children and adults about eating healthy, farm grown produce, farm tours and even bringing farmers into the classroom. A percentage of sales support this program.
McFadden’s Wharf Open Air Artisan Market
The 4th Thursday of the Month from 4:00-8:00pm (thru September)*
This open air market is found at the base of the Newport Beach Pier, in the center promenade area. This is a non-food venue, and instead showcases artisan’s hand-crafted wares. On this Thursday, a sampling of the vendors included: adorable hand-knit baby hats & newborn caps, scarves & wraps for women, pictures of folk art in frames, candles, jewelry & beading, photography, home goods & décor, sun hats, t-shirts and gift cards.
*This venue hopes to extend the market into the winter months and will adjust the hours accordingly. Visitors can view updates on their Facebook page: Newport Beach Open Air Markets.