Author: Tara Fatemi Walker
Lovers of delicious food—especially fresh produce—are so lucky to live in Santa Cruz County. We have a plethora of farmers’ markets; it would be impossible to go to all of them each week.
Lately, I have been going more frequently and I decided to share what I bought the last time I went to the Aptos Farmers Market at Cabrillo College—which is Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon all year long. I’ll talk about some of the other markets in the future, including the one closest to my home (Live Oak) where I shop most Sundays.
Back to Cabrillo: during this particular visit, I bought more ready-to-eat foods than fresh. The fresh produce I bought included cucumbers from Borba Farms plus spicy sprouts from New Natives (I usually buy pea shoots from NN, so this was trying something new, and they were yummy—my husband enjoyed putting them on his sandwiches for the next few days with hummus—more on that later). Also, I bought delectable yellow peaches from Stackhouse Orchards. Truly some of the best I’ve ever had. One employee was handing out lots of samples: peaches, nectarines, pluots, and more. Can’t wait to return and buy some different things.
We saved the row featuring ready-to-eat and bottled/jarred/etc. products for last. First, I stopped at Wise Goat Organics. A couple months ago I bought one of its scrumptious sauerkrauts (spicy garlic); this time I was there to get a bottle of Golden Kvass fermented probiotic tonic after seeing it on Instagram. It’s a beautiful bright drink with organic baby gold beets, organic carrots, organic ginger, organic turmeric, and sea salt.
Next, I stopped at Hakouya which sells fantastic probiotic miso dressing (I use it on salads, steamed or raw veggies and more), handmade miso (several varieties), sauces, and more. I bought a couple ready-to-drink Amazake, which is a fermented rice drink: miso vanilla (my daughter’s favorite) and Horchata. Some of Hakouya’s products are sold at grocery stores, but you can only find the Amazake at farmers’ markets.
After that, I visited the booth for Bay Living Culinary, a recent addition to the market. Chef Jody Lombardo’s experience includes operating Santa Cruz-based Fresh Prep Kitchens for 18 years. She’s now based in Monterey County, so I was very excited to hear she is now at the Aptos market every Saturday. Her regular offerings at the market are ready-to-bake chicken pot pies (which I haven’t tried yet) and Boston style clam chowder. The chowder is why I was there—I’ve had it a few times in the past and it’s been absolutely amazing—and that night as part of our family’s dinner, it lived up to my memories. The last time I’d eaten it was at last October’s Grazing on the Green, where Jody had her pop-up booth “The Chowder Box” (see photo above). On the Saturday I visited the market, Jody was handing out gazpacho samples, and the soup tasted incredibly fresh, chock full of many veggies and herbs. We took a container home and devoured it the following day.
Last but not least, my husband was looking for hummus and we stumbled on what turned out to be a treasure. Zena Foods & Sprouted Hummus, based in Sacramento, makes exquisite products. They know what they are doing with the samples they hand out; we tried a bunch of different things and ended up buying way more than we planned because they were so good. I don’t regret buying so much; the containers stayed fresh for many days and were great as sandwich fillings and as snacks with cut-up veggies or crackers. We bought three hummus varieties: avocado/cilantro, classic hummus, and sun-dried tomato & basil. We also got a package of fresh pita bread, and containers of harissa chickpea salad and Prince Gabriel spread Fun fact: “Love” is listed as the first ingredient on the labels, and you can taste this! After “love,” Prince G’s other ingredients are caramelized onions, sun-dried tomato, basil, sweet bell pepper, green olives, and olive oil.
I hope everyone reading this goes to a farmers’ market very soon; maybe I’ll even run into you there! It’s so important to support farmers and other small businesses.
Location — 6500 Soquel Drive, Cabrillo College (right above a spacious, free parking structure)
See full vendor list here.