When I'm in California to visit family, I always have a list of favorite things I like to do while I'm there, and a trip to the local farmers' market is my Number 1 To-Do. The market in Ojai, a little town about 75 miles outside of Los Angeles, never fails to knock my socks off. Not only is the produce and fruit available almost year-round, but it's where I am guaranteed to run into old friends and catch up on their news. Not surprisingly, it takes me a couple of hours to make the rounds, all the while sampling the wares of farmers showing off their strawberries, tangerines, and apricots.
At this time of year, when the growing season has only just gotten started in Maine, the farms in California are going full tilt with avocados, citrus, herbs, salad greens, artichokes, peaches, berries, and haricot verts. But what really caught my eye was a mountainous display of heirloom tomatoes (in June!) I couldn't resist. I bought an armload.
Next stop, a bunch of freshly picked basil and a loaf of artisan whole wheat bread. Back in the kitchen, I made a garden sandwich of sliced heirloom tomatoes dusted with salt and pepper, a few basil leaves, and a little mayo between slices of still-warm bread. OMG, as the kids say. The tomatoes were so perfectly ripe, the juice ran down my arms. I didn't care. I was transported.
Merrill Williams is the publisher of Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.