Dates and eggplants: Summer finds at the farmers market

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Chinese eggplant along with Fresno Evergreen from Her Produce makes its way down from Central California to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market each week. Photo by Gillian Ferguson/KCRW

Market correspondent Gillian Ferguson finds chef Ray Hayashi of RYLA in front of Fresno Evergreen’s stand. A favorite of chefs, Chao Her has brought Chinese eggplant to market which Hayashi is using in the restaurant’s Flannery beef steak dish. Scoring the skin then frying, he is cooking down a miso paste with sugar, sake, and yuzu juice and baking to serve with the steak. Some guests confuse it with bone marrow because of its richness. 

One of the signs that the season is changing:  Dates are showing up at the market. Alvaro Bautista travels from Mecca with a fresh crop of barhi, medjool, khadrawy and halawy dates. He says he is harvesting the barhi early this year and describes which varieties ripen on the tree and says the barhis should be available for the next 2-3 months.