A closer look at the Westwood Village Famers’ Market
By Kylie Reynolds
Originally posted in Daily Bruin
Nectarines and apples fall out of baskets – adorned with eye-catching signs – and spill onto the table.
But it is the pluots that grab the attention of customers at the Arnett Farms stand.
The stand carries nearly 13 different varieties of pluots, the hybrid of a plum and apricot, said Oscar Perez, an Arnett Farms employee. The flavors come with distinct names, from Dinosaur Egg to Flavor Queen.
Perez said the rarity of pluots keeps the stand popular. The fruit cannot be found at most of the supermarkets in the area, he said.
“This one right here (is my favorite),” said Jennifer Hernandez, a fourth-year Chicana/o studies student, pointing to the pluot stand. “I’m a fruit junkie.”
Passersby stop and congregate in front of the stand, where a tasting booth offers toothpicks and pluot samples.
Coming from class, first-year medical student Justin Tse stops to try a piece. Tse said he likes to sample the fruit, even though he has yet to buy any of the pluots.
Agni Candle Company
Students can pick up a signature UCLA candle scent at the eco-conscious Agni Candle Company stand.
The “Bruin” scent – cinnamon, blood orange, clove and ginger – is one of many candle varieties, which are made from 100 percent essential oils and blended by the owners.
The other popular scents are lavender, blood orange and lemongrass, said co-owner Erin Lichtman.
Lichtman said Agni Candles creates many of their scents with students in mind. Between dorm studying and parties, she said the company knows students need candles for certain environments.
Because the stand encourages sustainability, patrons can also bring their own votives to situate the candles themselves or exchange a comparable votive for a new candle.
Sitting on the Dolce Monachelli’s stand are rows and rows of traditional Italian wedding cakes.
With more than 16 different flavors of cakes, the German chocolate and the chocolate Kahlua rank among the favorites, said employee Francis Huizar. Two cakes cost $6 or four cakes cost $10.
The stand also sells other packaged snacks, including nuts, licorice and granola. Greeted with a smile and plentiful samples, Huizar said students like to stop at Dolce Monachelli’s and pick up snacks before class.
Paris Crepe House
One of the newer additions to the market, the Paris Crepe House is a crepe and panini stand.
The French-themed vendor offers both savory and sweet crepes and has vegetarian options.
Among the stand’s more popular items are the strawberry, banana and nutella crepe, which costs $7, and the smoked salmon crepe, which costs $8, said co-owner Carla Marcellana.
Bolani East and West Afghan Food
Offering traditional Afghani food, the East and West Gourmet Afghan Food stand is unintentionally nutritious, said employee Mustafa Sidaq.
“We are not trying to be healthy,” Sidaq said, laughing. “That’s just how the (food) is.”
The stand sells bread and more than 10 different varieties of pesto, hummus and yogurt, which are all vegetarian or vegan.
Flavors include eggplant pesto and garlic mint cheese.
Their yogurt is sold in Costco and Whole Foods, but patrons can buy it for less at the Westwood market. The stand also offers a student deal – four products for $20 with a Bruin ID.
Smart Simple Gourmet
A new take on the typical college take-out meal, Smart Simple Gourmet sells organic, precooked dishes.
Owner and cook Linda Wong said the menu changes weekly, with customer favorites including the chicken curry, the curried split pea soup and the shepherd’s pie. The meals come in containers that can be taken home and heated up for a quick eat.
“It’s a great alternative to going out or eating in the dorms for dinner,” Wong said. “It’s like a home-cooked meal for students away from home.”
Published: Monday, September 19, 2011