Updated 2008-12-09 10:10:09 ID=217:3

© 2008 The Romantic Table
©2008 The Romantic Table, Gary Billington of Sunrise Desert and Tropical from San Luis Obispo, He carries four different varieties of dates. 2008-12-08 20:49:30:88
©2008 The Romantic Table

Gary Billington of Sunrise Desert and Tropical from San Luis Obispo, He carries four different varieties of dates.

Farmers Market December 6, 2008


A new discovery: Gourmet Dates!

Though we got a late start this morning, we didn't miss out on having a good time.
When we arrived at the Templeton Park, we found it a center of activity. In addition to the farmers market, there was also a big craft fair going on, as well as a dog obedience class.

First off we talked to the "lamb lady" (Debbie Paver at Charter Oak Style Meats) to confirm our lamb shank order.

Next up we were so happy to see the See Canyon booth again with their delicious apples. We bought several apples for our lunches this week.

©2008 The Romantic Table, At the Dragon Spring Farm booth we bought their delicious persimmons 2008-12-08 20:59:04:89
©2008 The Romantic Table

At the Dragon Spring Farm booth we bought their delicious persimmons.
At the Dragon Spring Farm booth we bought their delicious persimmons which we've been using for our salads. For those of you out there that don't know how to use these low-cost finds, you simply peel them (while they're still firm) and cut them up into slices. They have a subtle cantaloupe flavor and they're an unusual option for topping off salads.

From there we proceeded to the "honey man", Carlos at the Stolteys Bee Farm. We checked on his current varieties: Alfalfa and Orange Blossom honeys, bought another small jar of Orange Blossom and proceeded on. Since buying last week's honey, we've been enjoying daily afternoon cups of tea with honey. It's a refreshing "pick-me-up" for this busy holiday season.

We thought we'd go down and see if Ralph Johnson had come this week. We were disappointed to not see him, but in looking for him, we made a new "find" of someone else: Gary Billington of Sunrise Desert and Tropical from San Luis Obispo, He carries four different varieties of dates and oh are they delicious! His date varieties are: Dayri, Barhi, Medjools (pitted and not pitted -the common one) and Deglet Noor. It's the first time we've tasted such fresh dates and in really unusual varieties! He gets them fresh from Thermal, California at the Salton Sea. You've got to try his Barhi dates! They're so soft and creamy! They taste like a soft vanilla caramel! They're better than candy! All his dates are delicious. We haven't made many recipes using dates, but knowing that such wonderful dates are available, we'll have to think up some ways to include them in our cooking.They sell for six dollars a pound. Gary also sells several forms of cactus and tropical flowers. They're gorgeous and very reasonably priced And he claims they're almost fool-proof. "Water them and they grow." -If you don't water them, they still grow!" With a background in horticulture from Cal Poly, he should know. He grows them year-round in his greenhouses. And with very nice plants for sale in the twenty dollar range, his arrangements would make a nice Christmas "bread and butter" gift to any host or hostess. If you would like to learn more about Gary's dates and tropical ornamentals, you can reach him via email at: roxannejean@hotmail.com. He's also at most of the Farmers Markets.

All in all, I'd say that this week's produce is definitely of the winter crop varieties. You'll find lots of dried fruit, nuts, long-storage crops such as late autumn apples, persimmons, vegetables such as beets, cauliflower, carrots, kale and swiss chard. But there are still strawberries available too!

With our dates and other market purchases in tow, we decided to call it a morning and headed back to our car with lots to talk about and try this upcoming week. With Christmas around the corner, we had a full-day planned to accomplish. See you next week!





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A tip from Sue!

Frying fish is not hard

Frying fish is not hard. The trick is to evenly coat the fish and allow the coating to set and dry a bit before frying. The purpose of the coating is to keep moisture in NOT absorb oil! To minimize oil absorption fry at a temperature between 350F and 400F max