where to buy heirloom beans?
i'd love to branch out from the usual black, red and pinto. i can find a great selection online, but i can't bring myself to pay $$$ for shipping, ouch - so where can i find a good selection of dried heirloom beans in l.a.? preferably east side but i am willing to take a field trip...
Check to see if Nicole's in South Pas has any. Aside from that, I know of no regular supplier year 'round other than Surfas. They aren't necessarily cheap - the Tarbais are downright expensive - but they have a good selection, and they come in small enough bags that you can buy four or five or more and have a good lot to sample without being stuck with several pounds.
The guy who sells mostly Brussels sprouts at the Saturday Pasadena farmer's market grows heirlooms of several kinds. He's a bit cranky at times, but he'll gladly tell you more about those beans you're buying than you'll want to know. See if he's got White Cats - those are really special.
As for everyday alternatives to the pinto, a lot of the Latino markets (and Food 4 Less as well) often have Peruanos in bulk. Those are my new favorite bean, ranging in color from very pale green to off-white to beige. A bit bigger usually than cannelini, they're meatier, and hold up as well to long cooking. Best cassoulet I ever made was with those.
went to nicole's this morning as i was in the 'hood - i left with a pound and a half each of appaloosas, cranberries, calypsos and flageolets, plus a couple of other things. they had probably 10-12 different varieties, ranging from 1.95 - 15.95 for 1.5 lb packages - seems pretty reasonable.
thanks for the tips, all. i'm going to head to surfas next time round - perhaps with someone to keep me reined in. there's just so much there that i can't possibly live without. really.
I haven't been to Nicole's in more than a year and didn't remember that many kinds of beans there -- good work.
Keep us posted on your visit to Surfas. I just did a quick count on their new Web site ( http://www.culinarydistrict.com/Produ... ) and found ~20 kinds of dried beans. The store generally has more than the Web site in most categories.