The Riverside farmers market, one of the best in its region, emphasizes genuine small and local growers. For instance, Angelo and Adelina Filandrianos, a charming couple from Hinkley, near Barstow, have plump, sweet and flavorful Bing cherries, now in peak season.
This week they will also bring their first Royal (a.k.a. Blenheim) apricots, which are starting to show up from other hot growing areas such as the San Joaquin Valley. These may be better than most commercial apricots, but to develop their best flavor and texture, Royals really need the moderate climate of coastal valleys, where most growers will harvest later this month.
Home growers abound: Jack Liskin of Perris, a retired professor, sells a little of everything, from beets, zucchini and chard to Marsh white and Star Ruby grapefruit, which are now in prime season from Inland Empire districts. Coming from Riverside itself, Elsie Navarro sets up a long table of homegrown loquats. Judy Henning has Hass avocados, which, when grown in hot inland locations, will be at their best for another month.
Several vendors carry purslane, verdolagas in Spanish, which looks like and is a weed, but is cooked like spinach and is esteemed as a salad green by Latins and Middle Easterners. Maria Cabral of Ontario sells both wild and cultivated forms; the wild kind is a little scrawnier but has better flavor, she says.
Picks of the week: Boysenberries, which derive their intense, complex flavor from their mixed ancestry of blackberries and raspberries, including wild species. Once common in Southern California, they are now scarce here because they're soft and perishable. Doug Powell offers them, along with Marionberries, an even more delicious and elusive hybrid, at the Hollywood and Beverly Hills farmers markets. Native to Oregon, Marions are difficult to grow in California, but the relatively cool spring has helped their quality this year, says Powell.
Riverside farmers market, Sears parking lot, Arlington and Streeter avenues, Fridays 8:30 a.m. to noon.