Farmer’s Market Find

On Saturday, Husband and I walked over to a nearby Farmer’s Market in our new neighborhood.  I came across a stand that was selling products from East and West Gourmet Afghan Food – bolani and various sauces.

Not familiar with Afghan cuisine and having never heard of “bolani” before, a quick visit to Wikipedia turned up the following:
Bolani (Persian : “بولانی”) Bolani is a vegan flat-bread from Afghanistan baked or fried with a vegetable filling. It has a thin crust and can be stuffed with a variety of ingredients, such as potatoes, spinach, lentils, pumpkin, or leeks.

Bolani originates strictly from Afghanistan. It is vegan and very low-calorie. It is usually served as an appetizer, side-dish, or main dish.

It is similar to Paratha which comes from India, but it has different spices and ingredients.

East & West Gourmet Afghan Food is the only trademarked producer and retailer of Bolani in the US. Their products can be found in Farmers’ Markets all over California as well as Whole Foods Markets, Mollie Stone’s, Andronico’s, Corti Brothers, and various Food Co-Ops.

To me, they looked like quesadillas without the cheese.   I like quesadillas so I should like bolani, right?  Okay, so my logic may be flawed but whatever gets me to eat new things…

Pumpkin Bolani

Various sauces

The stand carried pumpkin and spinach bolani.  After sampling both of them topped with various sauces like cilantro pesto, I raided Husband’s wallet for cash.  I ended up walking away with one of each type of bolani (4 servings in each bag) and containers of garlic mint cheese (more like a yogurt), cilantro pesto and eggplant pesto which cost us $24 total (we got one product free).  A little pricey…  On the website, it said that their products were also available at Whole Foods so I’m going to see if my local branch carries their products and if so, what the prices are.  There’s always direct ordering from the website but I haven’t checked out what shipping costs are like.

The guy at the stand suggested heating up a skillet with a little bit of oil and frying the bolani or just microwaving it as it’s best served warm.  I brought some of the pumpkin bolani to work for lunch today and popped it in the toaster oven which gave the bread a little bit of crispiness on the edges.  Topped with the garlic mint cheese, it was yummy!  The yogurt-y sauce, while garlic-y, is not overly so and the mint gives it a nice refreshing quality.  This would work great as a vegetable dip or as salad dressing.

The thing I like most about these products is the fact that they are low calorie, low fat and packed full of nutritious stuff like vitamins and anti-oxidants n’ all the other things those guys in white coats say to eat else you’ll keel over and die.  Jamie Oliver would be proud…

I could see myself visiting this stand every week for bolani but I think my wallet may have a say about that.  Maybe every other week?

***Pictures yoinked off East and West Gourmet Afghan Food’s website.

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The Gumbo Pot

Just part of the menu...

A few weeks ago, my artist friend, Tanya Bjork, and I paid a visit to the Farmers Market at The Grove.  We decided to have lunch at one of the many eateries there.  Since we had been talking on and off for a while now about how long overdue we were for a trip to NOLA and how much we missed The Gumbo Shop in the French Quarter, The Gumbo Pot called to us.

Located in a back corner of the Market, The Gumbo Pot boasts a menu featuring Creole and Cajun specialties like gumbo (of course), jambalaya and red beans & rice.  There’s blackened catfish, po’boys, muffelatas and even alligator!

Muffelata

Cornbread Muffin

I opted to get a muffelata and a side of the cornbread.  The Gumbo Shop’s version of this sandwich consists of a thick sesame crusted bread, ham, salami, some other meat that I forgot the name of, provolone and an olive tapenade.  The bread was a little dry and the olive tapenade was quite strong and a little salty.  The bread to filling ratio was leaning towards a little too much bread.  While the flavors were good, it wasn’t quite up to what I had when I was in the French Quarter.  The cornbread was good though – moist and speckled with bits of pepper for a little bit of kick though for my tolerance, there wasn’t much heat.

Tanya went with a blackened catfish sandwich.  It was massive.  She decided to take the filling from one half and double up the other half so she wouldn’t fill up too much on the bread.  I didn’t get a taste but she seemed to like it. Looking around at other customers, I could hear chatter about how good the gumbo and jambalaya were.  Those, along with alligator, will have to be ordered on my next visit…

Beignets

The Gumbo Shop also serves up beignets and cafe au lait.  We couldn’t resist and got an order of those yummy fried dough bits.  The beignets here were a little denser and oiler than what we got at Cafe du Monde but our memories could be a little biased since we were, um, intoxicated when we were there.  We noticed that the chicory coffee was courtesy of cans from Cafe du Monde, though!  Maybe the beignet mix was from there as well…

Over all, I wasn’t blown away by my meal.  I guess the muffaleta isn’t their specialty.  But there were many other things on the menu that I would come back for sure to try them.  I’ve never had alligator and my curiosity is piqued…

The Gumbo Pot gets 3 NOMs for the Catty Critic’s first visit.

The Gumbo Pot
6333 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90036-3190
(323) 933-0358
http://www.thegumbopotla.com
Gumbo Pot on Urbanspoon

Playa Vista Farmer’s Market

The husband and I decided to check out the Playa Vista Farmer’s Market since it was on the way to where we were seeing “Inglourious Basterds” (or however Tarantino is mis-spelling it…). This Farmer’s Market is fairly small…only about 20-25 vendors with 1/3 of them being food vendors. The rest are either businesses or fruit and vegetable stands. We browsed around trying to figure out which food vendor we wanted to try. I stopped at the Eat booth while the husband decided on an omelette from a neighboring stand.

Eat - Turkey and Swiss on a Cranberry Scone

Eat - Turkey and Swiss on a Cranberry Scone

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Eat - Turkey and Swiss on a Cranberry scone close-up

Eat’s menu changes every week according to the lady at the booth. This week, they offered up a turkey and swiss sandwich served on a cranberry scone (a refined slider, if you will), bbq chicken sliders and regular beef sliders as well as a yogurt parfait. I couldn’t pass up on the scone sandwich (2 for $5) and ordered that. In the back was a grill that slices of turkey were placed on.  Once they were warmed up, the chef placed them with slices of swiss in between a halved cranberry scone and served it with some cranberry jelly.

These sandwiches were roughly the sized of my palm.  The scone was a bit on the dry side but did not crumble too much.  However, it did overpower the turkey and swiss a little and I didn’t taste too much cranberry.  The cranberry jelly was quite nice and had a little bit of spice to it.  I wish I had more of it to put on the sandwiches as more “wetness” would have helped.    Overall, it was an okay sandwich and it certainly got my creative juices running as to what other types of scone sandwiches could be created.

Ham and Swiss Omelette

Ham and Swiss Omelette

The omelette my husband got was a simple ham and swiss since he’s so anti-green stuff.  Still, it seems that he can’t escape the plants since the cook still put greens on his plate even though my other half asked for it to be omitted.  The omelette was quite good; the eggs were cooked to a nice fluffy consistency though I think it was slightly overdone.  There was a good amount of ham in each bite but I couldn’t quite find the swiss.  With the salt and pepper packets my husband added to the dish, the omelette ended up being quite flavorful.  As for the greens, it was a mix with tomatoes.  I didn’t taste any dressing on them.

Playa Vista Farmer's Market - Roasted Corn

Playa Vista Farmer's Market - Roasted Corn

We were still a little hungry and the tamale stand was calling to me.  The husband opted to get a huge ear of corn that we saw quite a few people walking around with.  The corn was incredible -very moist, buttered and tender.  The stand had an array of seasonings one could sprinkle on the ear, salt n’ pepper as well as lemon pepper and paprika.  The other half opted for black pepper, garlic salt and Lawry’s seasoning.

Playa Vista Farmer's Market - beef n' chile tamale

Playa Vista Farmer's Market - beef n' chile tamale

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Playa Vista Farmer's Market - tamale unwrapped

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tamale

The tamale booth seemed to be doing well given how many people I saw eating them and buying them in bulk.  The menu boasted about 6 different tamales ranging from chicken to beef to vegetarian fillings.  I chose a beef and chile filled one which cost me all of $3.50.  I decided to go with their medium salsa which had a very slight kick to it.  The tamale was nice and moist, very flavorful and had a good amount of filling.  The beef was tender.  This was a great tamale.  I would have gone back and bought some to take home if we weren’t going to be out for the rest of the day.  Maybe next week?

There were other booths that looked yummy.  A crepe booth next to Eat was serving up both sweet and savory dishes.  The usual Nutella and strawberry/banana crepes were on the menu but there was also a tomato and basil crepe that sounded positively delicious. A booth selling seafood had smoked salmon cakes that I sampled with a very spicy aoli.

This market looked like a good place to pick up local grown organic fruit.  I saw a variety of berries, nectarines, peaches, pluots and figs.  There was also a flower vendor that was doing very good business. We passed by a booth selling chocolate that was stone ground and used unrefined sugar and had some interesting flavor pairings.

It’s not as big as some of the other Farmer’s Markets around but it is new so hopefully it expands as more time passes and more people find out about it. For right now, it’s a decent place to get some eats and produce and a few other items.

There’s plenty of parking, which is nice, but not a lot of seating if you want to eat.  When we went towards the end of the hours, it wasn’t terribly crowded but there was still a steady stream of people coming in and out which was a positive sight as I rather enjoy farmer’s markets and want this one to stick around.

Playa Vista Farmer’s Market
Every Saturday 9am-2pm
Parking lot on Seabluff Drive, just south of Pacific Promenade