Last month I visited the Beverly Hills Farmers Market for the first time. This Sunday, I’m a judge in their annual “Piesta”—a pie making contest combined with a pie -eating contest and other festivities.
I like this market—it’s a good place. I expected, I don’t know, upscale Bev Hills prices and attitude, but instead I found that a bunch of farmers, fruit and farm animals have a way of making the most upscale of places instantly haimish.
That’s Beverly Hills for “homey.”
The BHFM is not crazy-crowded like Santa Monica Farmers Market. It has a much larger selection than many markets—everything you need, in fact—a lot of prepared food stalls, a small petting zoo for the kids, and a mellow feel. Some farmers market transport me—they overwhelm me with a sense of the beauty and abundance of this world; they inspire a kind of walking gratitude, a constant sense of wow and thank you, or, to be more precise, thank You. They aren’t quasi-religious places for me, they are flat-out religious places for me. When I travel, what do I insist on seeing in every city? The synagogue, sure, but also the farmers market (okay, and the fish market, but that’s just me). A sense of holiness infuses both.
And there, smack in the glitzy city of Beverly Hills, you can feel it too.
And, this being Beverly Hills, all that comes with the occasional celebrity sighting.
True story: I was standing at a booth admiring the season’s asparagus when I heard a familiar voice chatting up the vendor. It was Wolfgang Puck. He was alone, dressed in jeans and a fitted purple T-shirt, picking up a few things, tasting and talking. I introduced myself and asked him—yes, I really did—“Do you come here often?” What can I say, I can talk to prime ministers and politicians and celebrities, but I do get a little tongue tied around chefs I admire. He said he does like the market—he’s a regular. Then he went over to taste the balsamic vinegars.
Whether my close friend Wolfgang is there or not, I’m looking forward to returning this Sunday at 11 am for the Piesta (press release and details below). I’m judging along with the L.A. Times’ Jonathan Gold,and KCRW’s Evan Kleiman.
That means I get to eat a lot of great pie made with California fruit on Sunday. And do an extra hour at Circuit Works on Monday…..
See you at the Piesta. Come on by and say hi.
The Press Release:
Pie Bake A’la Beverly Hills & Piesta Return June 10
Event Features Everyone’s Favorite Dessert, Local Fruit & Super Creative Fun for Kids
Save the date! On Sunday, June 10, 2012 the Beverly Hills Farmers’ Market hosts its annual Pie Bake A’la Beverly Hills and children’s “Piesta” between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. along the 9300 block of Civic Center Drive (ample free parking available at 450 N. Rexford Drive).
Admission to the festivities is free and the centerpiece of the event is a curated pie contest featuring pies that only use California-fruit. Cash prizes are given for best tasting and most “pieutiful” by a panel of distinguished and food-celebrity judges. World-famous Pie-and-Burger will be pulling its food truck up to the Market and selling various flavors of fresh pie.
The children’s free piesta features creative juggling by Mike (including juggling favorite pie ingredients); a “pieathelon” that includes a flour-sack toss, egg balancing and a Crisco-covered balloon toss; pie making and decorating and sifting for treasures in pastry flour. Pony rides and a petting zoo will also be available for a nominal fee.
No pie event would be complete without a pie eating contest, and Pie Bake A’la Beverly Hills has one for the adults and one just for the kids. Last year the L.A. Times wrote “Forget cupcakes—pies are hot” and the Daily News called pies a new food trend—so come get a slice of the action. Of course, all the regular farmers and prepared foods vendors will be in their usual spots at the Market.