Tasty Treats: Farmers Market in Old Town Temecula
The farmers market in Old Town Temecula has been delighting the senses and taste buds of locals and visitors for over two decades. Every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. dozens of farmers, artisans, and food vendors set up shop.
The farmers market in Old Town Temecula has been delighting the senses and taste buds of locals and visitors for over two decades. Every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. dozens of farmers, artisans, and food vendors set up shop in a large parking lot located at Sixth and Front Street in the heart of Old Town Temecula. Fans of farmers markets will be impressed with the large selection of locally grown produce from certified organic as well as conventionally grown farms.
Californians know we are lucky to enjoy incredible tasty produce year-round, but here in the Temecula Valley there is nevertheless a seasonal flow to the produce. Visitors to the market in January bundle up in sweaters and boots, warming themselves with cocoa as they browse through winter citrus like mandarins, navel oranges, and Meyer lemons, as well as jewel-toned varieties of beets. Winter is also prime time for many culinary herbs such as rosemary and thyme.
By contrast, farmers market shoppers at the height of summer’s heat browse the stalls in flip flops and sunhats, sipping berry lemonade. Summer is prime time to snatch up seasonal delights with very short growing time, like apricots, cherries, and corn.
Temecula Valley’s Own Health Food
Health conscious farmers market shoppers seek out superfoods like locally grown avocados, Brussels sprouts, chard, and nuts. The Temecula Valley even produces our own homegrown kale, which is perfect for a stir-fry or one of the many “superfood” recipes out there. Cauliflower has also grown in popularity as a health food recently, due to Paleo and Clean Eating chefs transforming it into everything from mashed “potatoes” to gluten free pizza crust. Cauliflower has a very long growing season, so shoppers find it in the market throughout winter and spring and even up to the beginning of summer.
Culinary specialties like fava beans, English peas, and green garlic can be nearly impossible to find in regular supermarkets, but they make their appearance every year at the Old Town Temecula Farmers Market. All three begin to appear in March and reappear for several weeks until their short seasons end. Fava beans are a cult item that is used in place of garbanzo beans to make a fresh-flavored hummus, or in many other Mediterranean-style recipes. English peas make a naturally sweet, fresh flavored soup or are delicious as a simple, unadorned side dish. Also popular with foodies, green garlic is less intense than the usual commercially sold bulbs, so its flavor is perfect for recipes calling for the garlic to be served raw.
The farmers market in Old Town Temecula features some hard to find specialty produce, such as delicate, tender Asian pears, ground cherries, and jujubes. Jujubes are sold fresh as well as dried. The dried variety has a texture and flavor similar to dried apples and dates, and makes a beautiful, unusual addition to a cheese plate. In fact, renowned San Diego restaurant A.R. Valentien (located inside The Lodge at Torrey Pines) presents dried jujubes as part of their wine, cheese, and fruit carving board pairing.
Dine, Stroll, and Shop
One of the most fun features of the farmers market in Old Town Temecula is the on-site dining scene. Food vendors are mostly along the southeastern side of the parking lot, offering freshly made Mexican food, smoothies, made-to-order crepes, Middle Eastern goodies like falafel and hummus and pita, and more. There’s also a variety of fresh breads.
Image Source: Flickr/Gemma Billings