patrons never have to worry about parking — the market is held in the Newpark Mall parking lot. This farmers market specializes in Asian produce, but if you're not there for bitter melon or bok choy, there are plenty of other options as well.
When I visited, stalls were varied and visitors could start off with kettle korn, tamales, lumpia or crepes while they listened to the energetic sounds of Flowtilla, a local band. Then they could begin their real shopping among the many produce vendors.
One of these was Ledesma Family Farm. They had a plentiful supply of broccoli, beets and leafy greens. Their carrots in particular were eye-catching — they had white and purple carrots in addition to standard orange varieties.
Apples were $1 a pound at some stalls, while greens were a bit more at $1.50.
At the Mission Fresh Fish stand, huge slabs of tuna sat, iced, next to whole rock cod and smelt. Shrimp were also for sale, but sadly, the stand was out of oysters. Prices here ranged from $6 to $18.95 a pound, depending on the type of seafood. Smoked salmon was $18 a pound.
At the time of my visit, Success Valley Farms' winter strawberries were in season — huge red berries that looked like rubies in their green baskets.
“Mantana strawberries have their season from December to April," Success Valley's Francisco Contreras told me. "They get sweet and have a strong strawberry texture and flavor.” The more familiar summer berries tend to be jucier than Mantanas.
Success Valley doesn't have an organic certification (“To be perfectly honest, we didn't want to spend all that money”), but Contreras assured me they don't use commercial pesticides on their crops.
Mantanas are great for recipes involving sturdy fruit. "Cheesecakes, strawberry shortcakes, any of those types of recipes will work," Contreras pointed out. He gave me a quick and easy recipe for a cheesecake, which you'll see below.
The Newark Farmer's Market is cheap, it's fun and it's a great way to spend a Sunday morning. Don't forget the strawberries!
2 boxes cream cheese
1 tub whipped topping
1 pint strawberries, destemmed
1 graham cracker pie crust
Divide pint in half. Destem all berries. Slice up half the strawberries and leave the others whole. Put the cream cheese, whipped topping and whole strawberries into a food processor and blend until smooth. Fold in most of sliced strawberries, using a few for decoration on top. Pour into pie crust and freeze until solid. Serves six.