Santa Monica Farmers Market.
by Donna Demaio
Want to know what Iron Man has for breakfast? I found out perusing the Santa Monica Farmers Market in Los Angeles with Robert Downey Jr’s personal chef Charles Voudouris: an unassuming and kindly chef who took me under his wing for a morning of tasty treats and inspiring foodie tales.
Each Wednesday, the Market is bursting with locals and visitors alike, amongst them talented individuals fossicking for the best, the freshest, the most exquisite or unique morsels to incorporate into menus. Hearing how cactus is pounded into flour to make tortillas was my favourite revelation.
The Santa Monica Farmers Market attracts celebrity chefs, fitness fanatics, yogis, athletes, home cooks, tourists and so on. Spotted on any given market day could be Australia’s own Curtis Stone, revered mixologist Matthew Biancanello or local chefs such as Josiah Citrin (Melisse) or Marcel Vigneron (Beefsteak by Marcel).
What exactly are they looking for? Well, Charles knows what he likes and needs, seeking out rare finds from quality producers and growers.
Here’s a list of his favourites:
1/ Weiser Farms grows in the Greater Bakersfield area, Tehachapi and the Lucerne Valley, cultivating high quality produce with incredible root vegetables and potatoes, espelette chiles, crosne and Jerusalem artichokes.
2/ Maggie’s Greens has the best lettuces, herbs and micro greens in Southern California. The man running the show is Nate Peitso who concocts Charles’ favorite the ‘stellar greens mix” of red and green lettuce, marigold and calendula petals, dill, chives, parsley and basil. Don’t forget to pick up tender pink radicchio heads.
3/ Harry’s Berries are harvested in Oxnard, California and are known for their rich aroma and deep red colouring, with a sweet and jammy flavour. New York’s Thomas Keller sources them and gets boxes sent across the country for his Manhattan restaurant Per Se.
4/ Rancho San Julien is one of the oldest family farms in California – a ninth generation cattle farm with the animals fed chiefly on dry-farmed grass. No hormones. No antibiotics.
5/ Yasutomi Farms (family-owned hydroponics) is preferred for all Asian greens and herbs. Stock includes nira (baby chives), mitsuba ( parsley), mizuna ( mustard greens), baby bok choy, komatsuna (spinach) and shiso and momotaro tomatoes.
The Farmer’s Market provides a community focus for so-called “city-folk” who wish to connect with and enjoy what nature has to give. It has a welcoming, casual vibe. I wandered around, nibbling on cheeses, fruits and nuts. I gulped down a delightful fresh juice and chatted with an over-run florist.
And it simply warmed my “foodie” heart watching the joyous smile spread across Charles’ face when he spotted the goose egg he would that very morning scramble for his famous boss. The chef has generously shared the recipe, so now, we all know what Iron Man has for breakfast.
Santa Monica Farmer’s Market Scrambled Goose Egg in black truffle butter (as prepared for Robert Downey Jr)
1 goose egg
¼ cup lactose free milk ( 1%)
Freshly cracked pepper
2 tablespoons black truffle butter
garnish (chopped chives and Maldon sea salt)
Method: Crack the egg and whisk until fluffy. Add truffle butter to a non-stick calphalon pan until starts to foam. Add in the whipped goose egg and slow cook over low-medium heat for two minutes, stirring constantly. Serve with gluten free toast and chopped chives. Enjoy!
Recipe courtesy of Chef Charles Voudouris (Personal Chef, Team Downey)
Donna Demaio travelled to Santa Monica courtesy of Qantas and Visit California