Every Sunday morning the blocks of California Avenue between El Camino and Ash Street come alive with a vivacious farmer’s market featuring an impressive array of vendors and entertainment. Not only can one find local produce and artisan crafts, but also a multitude of stalls hawking artisanal grocery items. Choices range from more traditional goods, such as gourmet crepes, to innovative new culinary concepts such as RawDaddy’s Vegan Cone Food.
[pullquote]Choices range from more traditional goods, such as gourmet crepes, to innovative new culinary concepts such as RawDaddy’s Vegan Cone Food.[/pullquote]
The prepared food stalls are clustered near the Ash Street end of the market, and it is impossible to pass by without sampling a few things. In particular, the vendors at East and West Afghan Foods are especially insistent that you sample their bolani, a type of stuffed flatbread and sauces. However, it isn’t just the joys of selling stuffed flatbread that draws vendors like Rahim Kakar to work at the farmer’s market. “I like to trade with other vendors, talk to people who normally would never talk to me,” Kakar, a native of Herat, Afghanistan, said. “We get to break down the stereotypes of Afghanistan that many people have; that our food is spicy or that we are terrorists.” Based out of Concord, East and West Afghan Foods began producing their bolanis out of a garage, selling them at a few markets a week. They soon expanded and now sell a selection of their products in local grocery stores including Whole Foods, Mollie Stone’s and Costco, as well as on their website: bolaniandsauce.com.
Additionally, for those craving seafood, H&H Fresh Fish has been offering farmer’s market customers a variety of sustainable fish products for three years. The company is based in Santa Cruz and obtains their fish from many sources. Not only do they send two of their own boats out of the Santa Cruz harbor, but they also look to local fishermen who have extra fish to sell. Their smoked fish is prepared at an off site smoke house. “The fish in the farmer’s market is the only reason I eat fish,” junior Devyani Bhadkamkar said. “The fish makes a delightful, fresh addition to our Sunday dinner.” She often prepares the fresh fish by frying it in olive oil and seasoning it with lemon juice and a parsley garnish. H&H’s most popular offerings include black cod and wild king salmon; however, if you are looking to use these for a holiday meal, be sure to arrive early as they frequently sell out.
Cheese connoisseurs are sure to recognize the name Cowgirl Creamery from cheese counters at grocery stores nationwide. Despite this success, the Petaluma-based company continues to peddle their organic pasteurized all cow’s milk cheeses at area markets. “We sell at farmer’s markets to support our local communities and to encourage local agriculture,” Cowgirl Creamery vendor Angie Daniel said. Their cheeses are award-winning, but for those looking for an affordable option, the cost of 20 plus dollars per pound may make one hesitate.
Adding to the festiveness of the market is a handful of live performers, including musicians and a balloon man who serve as a pleasant backdrop to the shopping experience. “The market has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, and they give out really good samples,” Bhadkamkar said. After purchasing a meal of tra- ditional tamales from the Oaxacan Kitchen stall or perhaps a sweet treat from Barlovento Chocolates, one can take a seat at one of the tables in the middle of the market and enjoy.