Do you need a nice stroll through an organic Valhalla? Of course you do. Everyone does. And the Sherman Oaks Farmers Market is your place.
I suggest packing several reusable tote bags (so you don't have to use plastic bags from the vendors) map the location and walk there. Be "green," save gas and minimize your carbon footprint. Get some exercise. Take time to see our great neighborhood. Then make your way through the dozens and dozens of booths full of locally grown and sourced goodies.
Here is what you will find on Tuesdays from 3 to 8 p.m. in the parking lot of the Westfield Fashion Square mall at 14006 Riverside Dr.:
FRUITS WITH LONG STEMS: Yes, pulled right from the tree. Handed to you by the guy who had to walk out on his own land, pick the fruit and bring it right to you, the consumer in Sherman Oaks.
VEGETABLES WITH DIRT ON THEM. No, a huge, faceless, corporate conglomerate has not processed these potatoes and heads of lettuce in a big factory. These vegetables got pulled from the earth by an honest-to-god farmer and delivered right here to our neighborhood with the dirt still on them.
EXOTIC CHEESES: Fermented dairy comestibles that you have never heard of, much less tried. These cheeses will change your life like a spiritual vision. Think of a wonderland made only of cheese, in which you have your pick of fermented curd. Smelly and thick, and in varieties that span the globe.
BREADS AND BAKED GOODS: The selection of bread and baked items is amazing. I like wading into these offerings face first. The aromas and textures will astound you. Flat breads, round roll, huge loaves sprinkled with herbs and cheeses. Twisted artisan creations of every shape and stripe. Look for Sylvie’s—Deliciously French: Chemical Free-Daily Artisan Baked Bread & Pastries. Sylvie Gagner is the owner.
HUMMUS, ETC: There is a grand competition among purveyors of hummus and Greek foods in Los Angeles and it gets slugged out every week at the Farmers Market. Baklava is something to keep on hand at all times. And don't forget the olives and oils and vinegars. I met a vendor named Tim—an Irish guy with the charming accent—who has amazing pesto, which I brought home. He has a great garlic spread and a goat cheese item with sun-dried tomatoes that I actually liked; he called it “crack.” The vendor is Tim Sidney, Aris Foods, Greek & Halian Foods. (According to the Urban Dictionary, the definition of "Halian" is "a person, usually Irish, who cannot be categorized, with a certain level of eccentricity and mischievousness.")
FRESH FISH: It's always available. I bought a dozen huge, Pacific oysters that were the bomb. Also, sushi-grade salmon, snapper, octopus and tuna, everything you could want if you like it salty and wet.
CREATIVE THINGS: The art community thrives here too. Clothes, hemp products, paintings, sculptures, candles, custom-made skateboards and live musicians abound.
FUN FOOD: Carnival treats? Yes, those too. A vast selection of gourmet food stands and trucks line the perimeter. Frozen treats, barbecue, lemonade stands, kettle korn, coffee stands, Korean food, Mexican food, Salvadoran food, British food, French food, German and classic offerings.
MEATS: Let's not forget the place with hormone-free meats. Beef, poultry, duck, antelope, bison and pork. If it walked and made a noise, you will probably find it.
FLOWERS: To top it all off, there are florists. Flowers are always a nice touch at the end of the day.
I believe in shopping locally and contributing economically, but here's also why I go to the Sherman Oaks Farmers Market: I have this fetish for dinner parties. If you like to have friends and family over for a nice meal and conversation, you can get everything you need at this market—from the appetizer to the dessert and the floral centerpiece.
Enjoy the pleasure of an open-air shopping experience. You will have stories to tell. This is Los Angeles, of course, but Sherman Oaks is our home. Make it rock. Eat well.
The Sherman Oaks Farmers Market is held Tuesdays, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. It is located in the parking lot behind the Westfield Fashion Square mall, 14006 Riverside Dr., Sherman Oaks.