When I wrote this mini-tirade a few weeks ago about the then-upcoming Sunset Strip Farmer's Market, I knew I wasn't entirely being fair. I mean, I was criticizing an event that hadn't even taken place yet, simply based on its press release. And, now I'll go ahead and admit: most of that vitriol was based on my own inherent hatred of the Sunset Strip area of West Hollywood and everything -- aging wrinkly rockers, gelled hair, breasts three decades younger than their owners, everything that's ever been in "Entourage" -- it represents.
So being the reasonable person I am, when the idea was presented that maybe I should actually head on over to the opening night of the market and check it out in person, it only seemed fair. At the very least, it would give the whole thing a chance to bury itself even deeper and confirm my own preconceived notions about the people that would put on an event like this. ("Veggie Valets?" Really?) And was West Hollywood mayor Jeffrey Prang's promise it wasn't going to be "your typical farmer's market" just a way to disguise the fact that it was going to be one big party.
Turns out, he wasn't wrong. The whole thing isn't what you'd come to expect from a farmer's market. It was so much better.
I got there around 7:30pm, when the foot traffic was sporadic and the farmers were getting ready to pack up for the night. (Which worked out, seeing as I was able to walk away with some end-of-night, just-take-this-off-our-hands, half-price salad fixings.) It was a cool evening, rather than the sun-beating-down-on-you heat wave of normal markets. And instead of amateur street music put on by vagrants in the distance, there was an actual stage with actual professional musicians using an actual sound system. Oh yeah, and there was beer.
"I completely love this place," said one patron before heading over to the alcohol-infused portion of the market. "Isn't this amazing?"
And that was pretty much the extent of every conversation I overheard during the half-hour I was there: "Isn't this wonderful?" "I'm so excited about this." "This is just a perfect night to have this." "I can't wait to come next week." And on and on and on. The only negative conversation came from a farmer worried there wasn't enough light to "show off the colors" of his veggies. But even that negativity was quickly squashed: "We're getting a lot more lights next week," assured one of the folks running the show.
But enough about the "color" of the event. Was there anything there worth buying? As far as the actual vendors, it was a nice blend of your classic market mainstays (veggies, fruits, sweets, cheeses) with some more exotic fare interspersed throughout (including fresh oysters, fresh-caught salmon, rotisserie chicken, and cream top milk). My ladyfriend, a bit of a farmer's market expert herself, was left impressed a bunch of times as we walked through the vendors, seeing items that are rare in your average markets. In other words, it's a perfect place to both pick up items you want, and to learn a little bit about something you've never seen or heard of before. In essence, the goal of a farmer's market.
So, the event: It works. I'm sorry I ever doubted you, Sunset Strip Farmer's Market. Here. Have a plug. I'm completely on board and recommend it. Would I make a trek out there on a normal Thursday night during rush hour when parking is at a premium? Probably not. But if I was a resident of that section of town, well, first I'd get a gym membership, some hair gel, maybe a tanning bed. But after that, I'd certainly make it a point to visit the new market on a weekly basis.
Photos by Rick Paulas