Saturday, July 9, 2011

Gigi's Farmers Market at The Americana at Brand

Continuing my roundup of Farmers Markets in LA: Here's one for fellow San Fernando Valley peeps:  Gigi's Farmers Market at The Americana at Brand.  This is truly a Farmers Market for those already in Glendale who are looking to pickup some farm fresh produce / quick Saturday morning bites - it's no Hollywood Farmers Market nor Studio City Farmers Market in terms of breadth and diversity of offerings, but it's a nice Saturday morning, very accessible source of quick pick-me-ups for those who live/work in/are somehow visiting Glendale.  And those who see it as a convenient stop on their way to other entertainment in the area.  It's really not big enough to draw anyone else to make the trek from other neighborhoods.

With those qualifiers in place - there are still many things to be excited about Gigi's Farmers Market - here are my Top 5:

1.  Location, location, location

Gigi's Farmers Market is held in an outdoor shopping/dining complex similar to The Grove (by the same management company), which makes you feel like you're on vacation thanks to its European vibe (ok so it's like a theme park version of European vibe, but better than your average mall).  There's a fountain with water show, charming trolley tracks, and a perfectly manicured park area.  Most importantly, because it's in a location where in general no Westsider/ Hollywood folks would venture, Valley girls like me don't have to deal with traffic or struggle to find parking (see #4 on list of things I like about the market).

Love that you can also bring your Farmers Market goods from fruits to hot foods for an immediate picnic at the fountain or the park!

2. Perfect Presentation / Curated Vendors

Like the rest of its grounds, the Farmers Market is perfectly manicured, every booth and nook and cranny around it is pristine (in fact it made me think of the lyrics from the Weezer song "Beverly Hills").  Vegetables, fruits, even hot foods are lined up neatly in enticing displays. 

Though there are only a handful of produce vendors, their offerings are high quality, with surprisingly reasonable prices that are mostly comparable to other Farmers Markets around the city. 

My favorite stall is Country Fresh Herbs (who has been featured on Food Network and recently LA Times) - all of their veggies look perfect - and there are a few items that you don't see at every Farmers Markets in the area, like heirloom cherry tomatoes (2 baskets for $4) and squash blossoms.  The lady at the booth is also super friendly, and when I mentioned that the basil smelled amazing, she threw in a handful with my tomatoes!

There is also a mix n' match berry stall - strawberries, boysenberries, raspberries and blueberries are on offer in any combo you like, 3 packs for $10.  Verni Farms offers peaches and nectarines for $2/lb.

I also liked H3 Chocolates - small batch, fresh handmade dark chocolate bars in fun flavors like Strawberry Vanilla and Peanut Banana (3 for $11).  Next to H3 is Isabell's raw honey and honeycomb - great for building resistance to pollen-triggered allergies!  La Boulangerie brings their selection of breads.

For hot foods, there's an interesting Thai Mex BBQ - will need to try this one on my next trip!

Arteco Bags helps you keep your produce cool in style, with lovely eco-friendly, reusable insulated bags in fun prints ($8 lunch-bag size, $11/tote size $1 off each bag if buying 2).  So happy that I can now give away my ugly single color insulated carrier bag!

3. Entertainment, Before/After Market Activities - There are great brunch/lunch spots just steps away:  Deluca's Deli offers great paninis, salads with wines and selection of cheeses, plus gourmet goods to take home.  Katsuya, if you're in the mood for sushi.  There's a huge multi-story Barnes & Noble right by the market where you can pick up your favorite novel or magazine to read by the fountain or the park.
There's a live band playing cover songs from classics like The Beatles, under an outdoor chandelier, and if sitting on the grass is not your thing, there are tables set up right in front of the band, and throughout the market for you to chow down on your finds.

Walk off the eats at shops from Anthropologie to BCBG to Sephora, or get out of the heat by catching a movie at Pacific Theaters.  Venture across Central Ave. and all the stores at the Glendale Galleria at your disposal as well.

4. Parking's FREE for everyone for 1 hour in the Americana structure, and free for 3 hours with any Farmers' Market purchase and validation - get from info booth between the two sections of the Farmers' Market.  3 hours gives you more time to enjoy all the activities mentioned in #3 above!

5. Extras: Gigi's offers a "bag of farm fresh goods" in their weekly sweepstakes - just fill out a quick entry form at the info booth, then hang out or come back at 1:30pm for the drawing (band will pick a name, you must be present to win).  The prize differs weekly depending on the produce available.  Not a huge prize but adds a fun element to your shopping trip.  While at the info booth, also pick up your complimentary copy of WhereLA magazine, an informative zine about what's new an interesting to do, see, eat, and know about in LA.

Your purchase at Farmers Market is also apparently eligible for Americana's Loyalty Rewards Program points: 100 points for any purchase at Farmers Market (sign up / record your points at mall Concierge).  Though I have to say this Loyalty Rewards Program seems designed for people who have no need of such programs - as the spending threshold is $5000 per month to get a $50 gift cert - to me the 1% return seems negligible to people who can afford to spend that much a month.  I definitely don't belong to that group, but thought I'd note it for those who may be interested.

All in all, Gigi's Farmers Market is definitely not in the same league as, and cannot top, Studio City Farmers Market as my fav market in the SFV, but Gigi's is good for those already in the area, looking for a quick pit stop to pick up select produce, and/or as part of their visit to The Americana.  There isn't enough variety of ingredients or vendors offered for serious chefs looking to create an entire meal (for example, there were no meat vendors that I could see).  I would go on days that I also wanted to get some clothes / makeup etc. shopping done (and bring an ice gel pack with my insulated bag to keep my produce purchases cool while I shop).

My last tip: Some of the vendors are cash only, so be sure to hit the ATM before you go (Wells Fargo ATMs are by the Concierge, but could impose a service fee depending on who you bank with).

[Feast on more photos from fantastic farmers' market finds around town at my Facebook page!]


Gigi Farmers Market 
Saturdays 10am - 2pm
Caruso Ave at The Americana at Brand (889 Americana Way, Suite 330, Glendale, CA 91210)
Ph: 818.637.8982

Parking: Americana structure - 1 hour free (all), 3 hours with Farmers' Market purchase and validation


No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...