Margaret found this Farmers Market in St Helena over 26 years ago – of course – and it was the beginning of a recurring rendezvous with local food …
The sign is the same but Angie is in her 80s now … 90s? The color of her organic produce shock you. Everybody stops to say Hi and buy. Watching her work the crowd I wonder if Angie’s greatest joy is farming – or selling. Today I bought tomatoes, green beans, plums, and apples – the perfect antidote to the rich cuisine in Napa Valley. The same lady still covers the event for the local paper. Everyone hopes to be the story one day so they can display a copy. St Helena may have the last newspaper on Earth with currency. The same whole new generation of young farmers take their places behind tables. With the hottest and most diverse collections of Cucurbita pepo we’ve ever seen. The same gentility showed up for the Volunteer Chef pancakes and waffles under the shade trees. The same Bocce courts now lay claim to being the divine centre of bocce as well as wine & food … St Helena has a population of five thousand and boasts 122 bocce teams with 1500 players – the largest number in the Bay area and most of the players are vintage. Eat your tomatoes and enjoy the show.
The sweetest thing takes place right under the schooled noses of people seeking the smells, nuances, and mouth-feel of great wine and they drive right-on by the sign pointing to heaven. Ironically, it all plays out in the finest vineyards in California. I’m lucky we found this place so long ago and that it’s still here, better than ever.
Grapes aren’t the only things vine-ripe in St Helena.
St Helena, California at the Farmers Market – Friday, September 20, 2013