Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Farmers Markets from A to Z

"The florist's stall was a riot of bright color, and the fruit and vegetables were piled high in perfect pyramids."

For me there are few things that feel more like summer than farmers markets. The above line came from a book I started this past weekend. In Cooking for Picasso, 17-year-old Ondine prepares meals for the mysterious artist who has secretly come to hide out in a small seaside town in the Côte d'Azur in the off-season in order to concentrate on his work. I'm only a few chapters in, and the pages are filled with descriptions of fantasy-worthy French food. The French are known for preparing food that is in season, and Ondine visits a market regularly to buy supplies for her family's café. I loved the vibrancy and excitement captured in the line above.

Farmers markets are a whirlwind for the senses—sights, sounds, scents, flavors, textures, colors all swirling around you from every direction. I love the shapes of the smooth produce piled high, the bright-hued patterns, row after row. The opportunity to touch and carefully inspect before you buy. The samples. The sizzling of breakfast sandwiches. The smell of fresh-baked breads and treats. This time of year I go to at least two markets a week.

As a way to celebrate the unofficial last weekend of summer, I created an A to Z list of my farmers market favorites. 

All natural, vegan, handcrafted soap by SeedGeeks
Blackberry goat cheese ice pops by Whisk
Diamonds, as in black diamond watermelons, and dryer balls made of alpaca wool
Edible flowers
Fresh figs - I had never bought figs before this summer, but I quickly became obsessed. I'd slice them in half, stuff them with goat cheese and pistachios, and bake. Or, I layered thin slices on a flatbread with brie and caramelized onion.

Grandma's Nuts - The Hawaiian Blend with dried pineapple and macadamia nuts goes great on salad with a tangy vinaigrette.

Iced tea
Jams and jellies
Kitchen Kulture - This is the booth with sizzling breakfast sandwiches made from local eggs. They also sell a variety of other seasonal items like strawberry tamarind vinaigrette.

Lime peppercorn shrub - I know I've mentioned them on the blog before, but I just can't get enough of the cocktail shrubs by Heirloom Bottling Co.
Moon and stars watermelons - This heirloom variety is nearly black with tiny flecks of yellow.
Nests - One morning at the farmers market I suddenly heard high-pitched cheeping. I looked up and discovered a nest with 3 baby birds perched on a tree branch only a foot above my head. I think they must have woken up when they smelled the breakfast sandwiches.
Orange watermelons - Did you know there are watermelons that aren't pink on the inside? Did you know watermelons are my favorite food? You probably should have guessed by now.
Peacock feathers
Quail eggs - I can't say that I've ever bought them (or the peacock feathers), but it's impressive to see such a wide variety of eggs available.
Ripe everything

Sunflowers, snapdragons, and succulents
Tomatoes, tomatillos, tube beets, and Tamale Man
Unique finds like clothing and clutches by Beautiful Mexicana

Vibrant vegetables of every variety
Watermelon radishes (did you think I would say watermelons again?)
eXquisite berries and peaches
Yellow watermelons

Farmers market season is far from over. Though the watermelons won't be around much longer, different crops are coming into season, and I'm looking forward to spending fall at the market as well. What are some of your favorite finds?

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