It’s market season

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    A bit of this and that

    By Jody Stump/Special to The Malibu Times

    For nine months of every year, I grab my battered African market basket and trek into Santa Monica on Wednesday or the Palisades on Sunday to stuff my larder with fresh, pesticide-free produce and artisan jams and cheeses never found on a shelf at Ralphs. Then, comes summer-and I never have to leave home again.

    Unlike our neighboring farmers’ markets, Malibu’s is as much craft faire as fruit stand. Start at the Library end and the first booth is a makeshift kennel brimming over with glossy, round-bellied Lab pups begging for a way home. Turn around and you’ve stumbled into a Tunisian souk strewn with yard-high layers of intricately knotted area rugs. One of my favorite artisans from Malibu’s annual art festival, Bettina Kleeman, has a sampling of her pottery mugs and vases-Pick up one of her hand-thrown blue or green colanders and fill with crisp, Bing cherries and you’ve created a still life worthy of Cezanne on your kitchen counter. A few steps more and Irina, the herbal diet maven, is luring you to her side with chocolate kisses. The gimmick? She has a rare Indian herb, which zaps the sweetness in sugar -and she proves it with free samples. My sister’s seeking the 12-pound drop so we have field trials in progress. I’ll let you know.

    Halfway through the tented passageway we reach the food stalls and the wares are worth the walk. Have you tried Rockenwagner’s chocolate bear claws or their cheese pretzels? Don’t miss them! Their low-fat blueberry muffins were gone in the first hour.

    Other food stalls had snappy green beans and tender artichokes the size of soccer balls. Culinary herbs were generously packed into windowsill pots and, yes, there were those cherries-so juicy it’s hard to choose between the red and the white. Don’t choose-take both, the prices are as great as the quality.

    Laden with fruits and veggies for a week and a big bouquet of fresh calla lilies, I leave Malibu’s market, content that, once again, summer has come to town. Malibu’s Farmers’ Market will be in the Civic Center parking lot, Sundays 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.