There were friends booked in for supper at the Venice house, and Miss Whistle & So Lovely had recommended the Santa Monica Farmers Market for our grocery shopping so we sketched out a skeleton menu and headed off in my white chariot to see what was in season over here.
There’s great pleasure to be had from filling a hessian shopping bag with fresh produce: for the grilled vegetables I had planned, I chose a plump head of fennel with two feet of fronds, a fat bunch of young asparagus, each stalk the width of a pencil, spring onions (scallions), and big round red onions. JK found local honey for her chicken marinade, sweet smelling tomatoes, a great bunch of fragrant basil, unwaxed lemons and tiny crisp cucumbers, and we added three yielding avocados, bok choy and organic eggs to the haul.
It was almost incomprehensibly cheap to New Yorkers used to paying at least $3 or $4 dollars at the Union Square Greenmarket for any vegetable. Here the fennel and bok choy were a dollar a throw, and so on.
With a pit stop at the supermarket for essentials, our menu became grilled chicken with a ginger, garlic & honey marinade. I bashed up the basil & minced garlic with a glug of olive oil to baste the fennel, asparagus, scallions and red onions before grilling them.
Pudding was simply the three pints of strawberries I had bought from a farmer in the Santa Ynes valley on Friday afternoon. The avocados, tomatoes and lemons became handmade guacamole with aid of some of the red onion, minced, and a shot of chili sauce.
As we prepped the food in the vast, airy and light filled kitchen, we turned up the music and sang along to cheesy MTV hits. As I finished chopping and mashing the gauc ingredients, we started to scoop it up with plain tortilla chips, washing our mouthfuls down with swigs of Corona. A perfect evening, before the guests had even arrived.