This market was so movingly delicious to eye and sense, that I had to just enjoy it rather than documenting it. Produce, baked goods, prepared foods, and hard goods stalls were mixed and profuse, which was delightful. It's summer, so the market was full of berries and cherries.

Although I have so far not found Berliners to be nice to strangers, that was not the experience in this market, and, also interesting, this seems to be typical of farmers markets everywhere I go.

Many of the produce vendors were resellers, but many of the hard goods were local objects.

I finally got new business cards, by letterpress, at the farmers market. Local food, local business cards...

So despite being hesitant and apologetic every time I needed to speak, because I do not have any German at all, I felt at home with the friendly and happy attitudes of the vendors.

Is The Grounds of Alexandria overrated, or just overmarketed? We finally made it, after months of discussion. No coffee is worth a 20 minute wait, actually. The donuts were good, but nothing we saw justified the crowds, prices, or wait.

It's amazing how excited city people get about chickens. Then we saw the piglet. Ok, it's amazing how excited we got over a piglet, although he looked a bit lonely. The "farm" doesn't appear to be in use, with the vegetables planted as landscaping, and not appearing to be harvested. The outdoor seating area is pleasant but the mayhem indoors is not, and the food didn't appear to be worth the wait.

Big disappointment.

Until we wandered around the corner to  Salts, Meat, Cheese. The first and best thing to say about this warehouse market is that it's unpretentious. That's a big deal here in Sydney where there's more food hype than food. You can get some supergourmet things here, you can also get some lowbrow imports like Reece's Peanut Butter cups. There are expensive things and cheap things, and enough to look at and explore. Unlike the overpriced Gourmet Grocer in Balmain, prices are clearly marked.

Best of all, there's a happening in the far corner. At first it seems like a bar, with people waiting for attention. Then you realize it's 4 hot boys and a lot of meat. When it was our turn we announced our interest in pairing a cheese and ham for crepes. The relaxed and charming guy who helped us suggested asiago, but when we showed our interest in something else, went right off to get us a sample, and let us try several different proscuittos with it. When we ran out of cheese for the pairing, he got us more. We spent less than we expected, and had a great time. That's the kind of experience that will bring us back.

This market does not offer the level of cheese available at Formaggi Ocello, but the prices are about half. If you want good cheese to cook with, or for a big party, this market would be great. They also have a huge selection of imported dry pastas without jacking up the price like Crown Street Grocer does (and without the impossible wait for someone to ring you up and take your money).

They specialize in house-flavored salts, which are fun to smell and buy and eat.

I'm so excited I don't know what to do with myself. I've just had the opportunity to interview and photograph Melinda Dimitriades of Farmgate. Her main thing there (surrounded with lots of other goodness) is rare breed black pig meat.

I'm going to be posting the whole interview and maybe even some video soon, but what I'm most amped up about is the PIG FAT, so it's getting its own whole post.

  1. Pig fat is not bad for you, after all. It's a big part of the "Mediterranean diet", where they eat slices of lard on toast and use it as salad dressing.
  2. Animal fat is not bad for you, at all. Indeed the #2 healthiest people in the world (after the Japanese) are the Gascon, who live on Duck Fat.
  3. Animal fat is delicious. Pork fat has one of the cleanest, lightest, tastes, and flakiest texture. This is why our grandmothers (who knew what they were doing) always used pig lard to make pastry crusts (especially pies). That kind of lard is made from just one part of the fat. The rest of the fat can be used as a high heat tolerant cooking oil (roast vegetables, etc.)

Melinda sent me away from the interview with an odd gift, 4 kilos of pig fat that I'd just been filming her trim as she butchered.

I've got a fridge full of this. People are scared of it. They've been brainwashed to believe that pork should be lean. The problem is, I've paid for it when I buy the animal, and in order to make a living I have to get as much value out of the animal as I can. And these delicious rare breed pigs, with the healthy red meat full of iron, carry more fat. They're pasture raised, so they can get a little lazy sometimes, and when it's hot they lay around more. If it weren't for my shop and me buying these pigs, this farmer wouldn't raise them. The big meat distributors won't pay for a pig with more fat.

I'm not scared of fat or pigs, or cooking, so I tried to follow Melinda's instructions. "Put it in a pot with some water and melt it. You're looking for that beautiful snowy white stuff. Once it's melted drain it through a clean cloth (I used coffee filters) to remove any little bits of meat, because those will cause it to spoil. If it's clean it will last for months."

Well I assumed it was supposed to all melt, so I cooked it all day. When it still hadn't melted I consulted the interweb. Fascinating that you can find sooo many recipes for molten chocolate cake, but almost none for making your own lard. Way down the bottom of one of the instructions, none of which were very precise, I found mention of "you won't be able to eat all the cracklings, so feed some of them to your dogs." Is this the cracklings? The pork fat that doesn't melt? Ok, I've now learned from Slate.com's  that I should have cut up the fat. This would increase the surface area so it all gets to melt. And that there's a book about meat fat which covers the topic from health science to recipes by Jennifer McLagen.

 

Well I gave up for a while and when I went back into the kitchen after a few hours, I found the beautiful white stuff!

Joan's on 3rd is the place in LA to stop by yourself for a snack, or to gather a picnic for a friend or a date. It's comfortable to dine alone here at any time of the day or evening. You'll find something somewhere in the store to cheer you up. And the staff are sweet, charming, and knowledgable. You get all kinds of value for every dollar you spend here. Small good selection of cheeses. High quality olives. Diverse deli case for any mood. And best of all, the bakery offers Americana to Italiana.

Parking is Possible.

8350 West 3rd Street (East of La Cienega)

323.655.1967