This week marks the arrival of the autumnal equinox. As I strolled through the on Sunday, I couldn’t help but think of “The Last Rose of Summer,” a famous poem by Irish poet Thomas Moore. I had to stop by the Venegas Creek Roses stand to see whether there were any more Oceana roses.
“We grow roses year-round, but this is the last of the Oceana roses,” nursery owner Clemente Venegas said.
The Oceana roses produce medium-sized buds that blossom into a soft pink to white flower. Venegas has a large selection of other rose varieties, but the Oceana are my favorite because they remind me of summer.
My shopping this week turned out to have a rose theme when I found an unusual Asian fruit called rose apples at Rancho Mexico Lindo, the Valley Center desert farm.
“It has the texture of an apple, but as you will see it smells and tastes just like a rose,” said Luis Diaz, the owner of Rancho Mexico Lindo.
The rose apple tree has long, glossy green leaves and best resembles a palm tree. The fruit it bares has a thin and waxy skin. The apple flesh is crisp and watery with a mild rose scent and flavor that quickly turns into a bitter aftertaste. The rose apple is sprinkled with spicy pepper and eaten with rice in some Asian countries. In India, it’s mixed with guava and turned into a chutney condiment.
Autumn has also arrived at the Ha’s Apple Orchard stand where I found freshly picked red and green D’Anjou pears. Ha’s picks the pears when they’re almost ripe but still have a crunchy bite. You can eat them at this stage, but it’s best to let them sit on the windowsill for a few days until they get softer. Pears do not change color when ripe, so gently squeeze the neck of the pear to see if it’s soft. Pears also become very aromatic as they ripen.
Ha’s Apple Orchard also has small Italian plums that may be eaten now or, if allowed to dry, will turn into sweet winter prunes.
Sadly, autumn weather means the end of figs until next year. Swing by Capay Organic for its coveted candy stripe figs before they’re gone, or Avila and Sons for its Black Mission or Adriatic varieties.
Once you’ve got some figs in hand, try this recipe from chef Pasquale Vericella. It will be a delicious twist to serve the dish as an after-dinner course with a glass of vintage port wine.
Figs with Stilton
Figs (black or green)
Stilton blue cheese
Walnuts (Try Avila and Sons for walnuts)
Honey (Honey Pacifica, located next to Avilia and Sons, has honey)
Cut figs in half. Place a small piece of Stilton blue cheese on each fig. Place half a walnut on top of cheese. Drizzle honey over top and bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes.
I invite you to join me each week as I explore the magical world of the Beverly Hills Farmers’ Market. Please feel free to share stories and recipes of the items you find interesting at the market. If you see me strolling about, please say hello.
See you next week at the market!
Next Week at the Market: Kid Zone with Pony Rides and Petting Zoo returns. Live entertainment will be provided by the Panache Orchestra in the cafe area.
The Beverly Hills Farmers' Market is held every Sunday (rain or shine) from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the 9300 block of Civic Center Drive. There are more than 60 farmers and vendors offering a wide variety of organic and conventional California-grown seasonal fruits and vegetables. There are also prepared food kitchens with menu items to take out or enjoy at the small on-site cafe.
Parking is available on the neighboring side streets or in the garage attached to the City Hall and library. The market supplies free shopping carts to use and they are located there. If you have any stories or recipes from the market that you wish to share, please contact the site editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David De Bacco is a writer living and celebrating life in Los Angeles. He has worked for some of the world's most famous chefs and restaurateurs, and along the way he became a little savvy about food and wine. He has published articles and cookbooks for Shibata Publishing Co. in Tokyo and is a contributing writer for Edge Publications. He is also the creator of the Cookin with Mama blog, a meeting place to share recipes from our mothers.