Plan ahead if you want to have a successful and delicious Thanksgiving dinner.
“We recommend shoppers make their reservations for pies at least two weeks before the holiday,” said Neri Martinez, head baker for Du-Par’s at the Original Farmers Market.
The same is true for the main course: turkeys should be ordered three weeks ahead.
Farmers Market has been selling holiday ingredients for the dinner table since 34 farmers set up shop at Third and Fairfax some 82 years ago. Not only do today’s merchants provide everything from cranberries to ingredients for stuffings, but also special sauces, exotic spices and savory teas.
When Thanksgiving rolls around, the ovens at Du-Par’s turn out 2,000 to 3,000 pies in a 24-hour day. “Sweet potato and pumpkin are the most popular flavors,” said Martinez, who also oversees the other baked goods like rolls, muffins and date nut bread. “We can bake 125 loaves at a time,” he said.
“Apple and strawberry cheesecake are the two non-holiday favorite choices among patrons who, during the holidays combined, consume 20 to 30 pies a day,” Martinez commented.
He is a native of Oaxaca, Mexico, where his family has a bakery. “It doesn’t have a name but everybody in town knows where it is.”
Ferrari of turkeys
“We sell between 700 and 800 turkeys for Thanksgiving,” said Thomas DeRosa, manager of Marconda’s Puritan Poultry, one of two Farmers Market shops specializing in poultry. “About 500 of those are Willie Birds, which chefs have called ‘the best turkey in the world.’ They are raised on a farm in Sonoma, are never frozen and have no antibiotics or hormones: they are the Ferrari of turkeys.”
“We start taking orders on November 1 for the holiday, and we carry birds from 10 to 30 pounds. But last year, we sold one turkey that weighed 40 pounds,” he recalls.
Customers can email their orders to be sure to have the main course in time for Thanksgiving.
DeRosa was born into the business. His great grandfather Louis DeRosa, along with Fred Marconda, began with the meat business at the Market in 1941. Thomas’s grandfather, David DeRosa, 89, still comes to work on weekends.
Some cooks deviate from the traditional menu and prefer variety for their Thanksgiving entrées. At Farmers Market Poultry, the other specialist, the choices range from turkey, goose, three kinds of duck to pheasant, poussin (a young chicken) and partridge (favored by the British).
“We also have fois gras (duck liver) for an appetizer,” said Bob Orewyler, manager at Farmers Market Poultry.
The stall sells more than 1,000 turkeys for Thanksgiving, and the most popular brand is Deistel. “Deistel turkeys are raised on a ranch in Northern California, and they are herded to keep them moving,” said Orewyler. “Turkeys are lazy and they need to move.” He, too, recommends that customers order their holiday entrée by the beginning of November.
Several produce stands at the Market offer fresh vegetables such as potatoes, peas, carrots, green beans and squash to complete the holiday menu. Free two-hour parking is another perk that makes shopping at Farmers Market a one-stop enjoyable experience.
For more information, go to farmersmarketla.com.