The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Los Angeles, located in Santa Monica, recently hosted Melon Mania at the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market. Melon Mania is an annual celebration of all the varieties of melons in season at the Farmers Market. This year, the culinary school hosted the event and demonstrated beautiful hand carved melons. They also created melon samplers with all of the varieties available at the Farmers Market garnished with fresh mint. The International Culinary School also runs Bistro 31, a restaurant run by current students. It is a wonderful place to have a delicious lunch at an affordable price. Bistro 31 is located at 2900 31st Street in Santa Monica. They are currently open for lunch Monday through Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. through September 17th. For reservations and information call 310.314.6057.
It is peak melon season at the Farmers Markets and there are many varieties to choose from. Melons that we commonly refer to as “cantaloupes” are actually musk melons, not true cantaloupes. Melons grow well in locations with hot days and cold nights. True cantaloupes include Ogen, Charentais, and Cavaillons. Ogen is not the sweetest melon, but it has wonderful flavor. It is a green flesh cantaloupe with a yellow and green striped skin and a guava-like aroma. Charentais is a French variety that has green skin, dense orange flesh, and intense flavor that is very strong and sweet. It is wonderful soaked in champagne or wine or wrapped with proscuitto. Cavaillion is similar to Charentais, but from a different region of France. It has a tan, slightly netted skin and orange flesh. Ambrosia cantaloupes are a cross between a Crenshaw melon and a cantaloupe. They have a fine, sweet flesh and a netted skin. A Rocky Sweet has green flesh and more flavor than traditional honeydew. Ananas has white flesh, creamy skin, is aromatic, and sweet like candy. Sugar Queens have a lighter orange flesh and are smooth and juicy with a white rind. The Super 45 has a deep orange flesh and a firmer green rind. The Sugar Nut, a vaiety of Honeydew, is a baby canary melon, with white flesh and smooth consistency. Watermelons are my favorite melon and are spectacularly sweet and crisp right now. Also look for yellow watermelon!
Several farmers at each of the Santa Monica Farmers Markets grow melons including: Munak Ranch at the Wednesday, Saturday Downtown, and Sunday Main Street Markets; Weiser Family Farms at all four Santa Monica Farmers Markets; and John Hurley of Summer Harvest Farms at both Saturday Markets and the Sunday Market.SPECIAL EVENT: The next Santa Monica Farmers Market Library Panel is Thursday August 14 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Santa Monica Main Library featuring Sherry Yard, Spago pastry chef, Zoe Nathan, Rustic Canyon pastry chef, and PY Pudwill of Pudwill Farms. This event is free and open to the public. Stay after for tasty treats from the chef panelists!