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Farmers Market Update: Madison

by | Mar 13, 2011

Indian Trails Greenhouse Room View

Indian Trails Greenhouse Room View

Joan Lambert Bailey was in Tokyo while preparing this farmers market update from her recent trip to her Madison. I’m happy to report that though Joan and her family were startled by the earthquake, they are all okay. To contribute to the relief effort in Japan, please visit The Red Cross.

Joan lives, farms and gardens in Tokyo when she’s not visiting her native Midwest. Follow her from seed to harvest to market at Popcorn Homestead and Everyday Gardens as well as Twitter!

Farmers Market Update: Madison

by Joan Lambert Bailey

Visiting Wisconsin in February is to enter the heart of winter. Brilliant white landscapes shimmer and snap in the cold wind, and anything green seems months away.

Home from Tokyo for a month-long visit, I ventured down to an old haunt – the Dane County Farmer’s Market in Madison – to find a winter food culture veritably humming with activity and tasty treats. A distilled version of the much larger summer market that rings the Capitol Square twice around, the Late Winter Market (and presumably the Early Winter Market, too) offers up an excellent seasonal selection from the Wisconsin table: maple syrup, a kaledeoscope of cheeses, hearty breads and organic tortillas, mushrooms, and an assortment of meats along with winter greens and root crops.

Dane County Farmer's Market Breakfast Table

Dane County Farmer's Market Breakfast Table

Held at the Madison Senior Center, this day’s Late Winter Market felt more like a church bazaar or community dinner. Rosy-cheeked patrons shook off parkas and hats while deciding whether to start perusing the vendors or grab a table for enjoying the Winter Market Breakfast.

Bleu Mont Dairy Cheese

Bleu Mont Dairy Cheese

True to my Wisconsin roots, I went straight to Bleu Mont Dairy and their bountiful cheese display. A good sharp cheddar is hard to find, but their five-year-old cave-aged bandaged cheddar I tasted there proved a little piece of heaven. The creamy texture and nutty flavor were more than I could have hoped for. Willi Lehner, chief cheese-maker at Bleu Mont, guided me through a few more samples as we talked about his creamery (he’s added a cheese cave and is incorporating alternative energy into the operation), and his own evolution as a cheese-maker (some time spent apprenticing in Switzerland to learn a few old tricks of the trade and his increasing use of organic milk as it became more readily available) since first coming to the market twenty-five years ago.

After tucking a block each of Swiss Reserve and Cave-Aged Banadaged Cheddar into my bag to savor with friends in Tokyo, I ventured around the corner for a closer look at the whimsical cutouts at Gypsy Travelin’ Market. Started at the market twelve years ago with her own recipes, Jae Almond appears to have found a niche offering items made with whole grains, wheat alternatives, non-refined sugar, and vegan recipes. Even as she mentioned business at the market was slow that day due to the protests and a snowy forecast, I couldn’t help but notice a steady stream of her treats fleeing the table. I nabbed the last winged cow cutout for my afternoon coffee, and moved on to see what savory and gluten-free options Silly Yak Bakery and Bread Barn might have.

Silly Yak Great Grains Breads

Silly Yak Great Grains Breads

Gyspy Travelin' Market Winged Cow

Gyspy Travelin' Market Winged Cow

Made fresh daily from non-certified organic wheat berries, the Bread Barn loaves tempted with swirls of cinamon or flecks of jalepeno’s and cheese. The Silly Yak products stored in a cooler to the side (and made in an entirely separate yet neighboring facility) were just as tempting albeit rather picked over by the time I arrived. I opted for a couple rice flour rolls for their heft and golden crusts. (They were utterly fantastic the next day toasted with a bit of unnecessary but oh-so-delicious fresh butter and jam.)

Just as the first flakes of that day’s snowstorm began to fall, I found myself admiring Indian Trails Greenhouse display of lush-leaved edibles and blooming ornamentals. An oasis within an oasis, the table brimmed with the dark green leaves of parsley, the thick ruby-red stems of Swiss Chard, along with sweet-scented jasmine and vibrant primroses, to name but a few.

Such breath-taking greenery put me in a weakened state, when I arrived at Snug Haven Farm’s sign for ‘frost-sweetened’ spinach just down the line. Founded in 1897 as a dairy, the farm uses organic methods to raise hoophouse spinach in the winter months and flowers and tomatoes in the summer. Calvin Hageman, patriarch of the farm and clearly a well-known figure at the market (paper invitations to his birthday party the next day went out with nearly every bag of spinach) offered me a leaf to taste. Talk about truth in advertising: the velvet leaf tasted so deeply sweet and green – so spinach – that I bought a half-pound on the spot for that evening’s salad.

Carl of Snug Haven

Carl of Snug Haven

Snug Haven Spinach

Snug Haven Spinach

At Don’s Produce the greenery again caught my eye – bags of brightly colored mixed greeens looked like the perfect companion to Snug Haven’s spinach – but their dried sweet potatos ultimately stole the show. Straight-up sweet potato chips – no salt or seasoning of any kind – struck me as a perfect addition for soup or to cook with rice. Another customer snapped up a bag saying her dog just loved them, and I was sold. (Our canine friends, though, enjoyed bison liver crackers from Paws Four, a division of Daval’s Bison Meats.)

No trip to a Wisconsin market would be complete without a bit of maple syrup, and so I found myself at Cherokee Bison Farms’ table. Alongside the syrup and their extensive offerings of bison jerky, roasts, ground meat, sausage, bratwurst, etc., they also sold organic sunflower oil. While it might seem odd at first glance – maple syrup, bison meat, and sunflower oil – Leroy and Cindy Fricke bring it all together. The bison pasture in the sunflower fields after harvest and feast in part on the oil processing leftovers – meal and oil settlings – throughout the year to creates a richly flavored meat their customers love.

Cherokee Farms Sunflower Oil

Cherokee Farms Sunflower Oil

Cherokee Farms Maple Syrup

Cherokee Farms Maple Syrup

As the market wound down for the day, I took one last look around the room. Throughout the morning, my eye kept returning to Garden to Be’s table tucked in a corner. Verdant trays of the certified-organic microgreens they grow and sell year-round to area restaurants might have been temptation enough, but the real draw for me were the Black Spanish radishes. Black and crusty and all roughly the size of a tennis ball, the piqued my curiousity. (I’m a fan of root crops almost as much as leafy greens.)

Garden to Be Black Spanish Radishes

Garden to Be Black Spanish Radishes

While chatting with co-owner, Scott Williams, after giving in to my inner vegetable geek I learned about their CSA for canners. Members receive a Processor’s Share four times a growing season with all the ingredients one might desire for homemade sauerkraut and kimchi, the perfect pickle, killer tomato sauce, pesto, rhubarb butter, or a salsa hot enough to thaw winter’s frosty edges. I would have signed up on the spot if I lived here.

What I bought:

  • Bleu Mont Dairy’s Reserve Swiss Cheese and Cave Aged Bandaged Cheddar
  • Gypsy Travelin’ Market Winged Cow Cutout Cookie
  • Silly Yak’s Rice Flour Rolls
  • Snug Haven Farm Spinach – a half pound bag (that barely made it to the car)
  • Don’s Produce Sweet Potato Chips and Salad Greens
  • Daval’s Bison Meats Paws Four Dog Treats
  • Cherokee Bison Farm’s Maple Syrup – Four half-pints
  • Garden to Be’s Black Spanish Radishes
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Farmers Market Update: Foodzie

by | Feb 6, 2011

Mandarinquat

Even though SF residents will suffer through a freezing June, July and August, there’s no denying the sweetness of a surprise summer day in February. This weekend’s weather was amazing, which makes it that much sadder that I wasn’t able to make it to the farmers market.

organic brussel sprouts - Swanton Berry Farm

Unfortunately a veterinary emergency kept me from visiting the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market this weekend, but thankfully friend and fellow foodie Emily Olson from Foodzie volunteered to step in. Not only did she bring me a bounty of fruits and vegetables, she also provided all the pictures for this week.

Carrots - Marin Roots Farm

Thanks Emily!

Spinach - Heirloom Organics

Meyer Lemons - K & J Orchards

Cardoons - Knoll Farms

Guavas - Brokaw Farm

Pimientos de Padron - Happy Quail Farms

California Navel Oranges - Olsen Farms

Green Garlic - Knoll Farms

Kiwis - Four Sisters Farm

Zutano Avocado - Olsen Farms

Broccoli di Ciccio - Chue's Farm Fresh Vegetables

Thompson Raisins - Hidden Star Orchards

Mustard Rapini - Knoll Farms

Is it springtime yet?

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Farmers Market Update: Riverside

by | Jan 30, 2011

Mission On Main Street

Natalie is a Computer Science graduate turned Software Developer living in Moreno Valley, CA. The highlight of accomplishing her MS was presenting for the third IEEE International Conference on Space Mission Challenges for Information Technology. Though she adores science, she is most passionate about great food, heavy metal, and kitties.

Check out her heavy metal foodie blog, The Devil Wears Parsley, find her on Twitter @DvlWearsParsley and like The Devil Wears Parsley Facebook Page.

Farmers Market Update: Riverside, CA

By Natalie Wiser-Orozco

Riverside, CA is one of the jewels of the Inland Empire. The beautiful architecture downtown sets the perfect stage for a quaint one-block farmers market every Saturday on Main Street, rain or shine!

Baby Kale

Dickens Festival Man

Every Saturday morning, though I do love to sleep in, I am always excited to get down to the market. My husband and I have been frequenting this fruit and vegetable paradise for a few years now, and I just can’t get enough of the local produce, free-range chicken, and eggs.

Bosc Pears

Free Range Chicken and Eggs

Prior to visiting the farmer’s market, I had heard about the benefits of buying food from these kinds of places. Not only are you supporting local farms, but most of the growers are certified organic in the surrounding area, meaning no icky pesticides to consume. The thing that really got me hooked on the idea was the taste and quality of the vegetables. We took carrots home the very first trip, among other things, and I was astounded. The carrots tasted so sweet, and, well – like carrots! The ones from the grocery store were so bland and boring compared to these.

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Green Beans

Berries

Now that we’ve been on the circuit for awhile, if I miss a week, I get grumpy. Who wants to settle for bland produce? Not this gal. The market has really helped me learn what produce will be present for each season. It also helps distinguish the seasons themselves here in Southern California. When you’ve got 74 degree highs in the middle of winter, it can be hard to tell them apart.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Dried Apples

It’s winter in Riverside, meaning that my favorite citrus has arrived. About two years ago, we stumbled onto the blood orange when our favorite vendor had them on display. We went nuts for them! They have a slight earthy flavor compared to their counterparts, but are sweet vehicles of goodness. I always think of beets when I eat them, because the color is so similar and fantastic.

Clementines

Blood Oranges

This week, along with stocking up on blood oranges, I found some exceptional Clementines – a citrus I hadn’t tried before, and some gorgeous baby kale. I have been hearing of the health benefits of apple cider vinegar that hasn’t been pasteurized, so I picked up some of that as well.

One booth has beautiful beeswax candles that smell great and clean the air, rather than pollute it like regular petroleum based candles. Finally, a must-have every week is the free-range chicken and eggs. The chicken is so tender and delicious. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the supermarket brands.

Beeswax Candles

Olive Oils

The vendors are all so friendly here, and most are pesticide free and organic. It makes “grocery shopping” a pleasurable experience rather than a chore, and the quality is un-matched. If you haven’t already, I urge you to support your local farms while simultaneously upgrading your healthstyle!

Friendly Vendor

This weekend’s haul:

  • Blood Oranges, Bosc Pear, and Clementines (Hillside Family Farms, San Diego, CA (310) 529-2361)
  • Cauliflower and Green Beans (RS Farms, Riverside, CA)
  • Baby Kale and Butternut Squash (Sage Mountain Farm, Aguanga, CA)
  • Dried Apples and Apple Cider Vinegar (Ha’s Apple Farm, Tehachapi, CA)
  • Free Range Chicken and Eggs (La Bahn Ranch, Temecula, CA)
  • Blackberries, Blueberries, and Raspberries (Brenda’s Berry Farm, Nipomo, CA)
  • Yellow Onions (Gama Farms, Arvin, CA)
  • Squaw Bread (Old Town Bakery, 8631 Baseline Rd., Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730)

If you’d like to share your farmers market experience at Summer Tomato, please read this.

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Farmers Market Update: Photo Journal

by | Jan 23, 2011
Blood Orange Slices

Blood Orange Slices

I’ve been feeling under the weather so I’m going to let the farmers market speak for itself this week. Here are some of the best shots I got at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturday.

Bay Bridge

Bay Bridge

Beautiful Turnips

Beautiful Turnips

Satsuma Mandarins

Satsuma Mandarins

Watercress

Watercress

Fuji Apples

Fuji Apples

Dandelion Greens

Dandelion Greens

Tokyo Turnips

Tokyo Turnips

What did you find at the farmers market this week?

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Farmers Market Update: Is It Spring Already?

by | Jan 16, 2011
Pomelo

Pomelo

Residents of San Francisco woke up Saturday morning to a veritable spring day. The the sun was shining, the sky was clear and maybe, just for a moment, you could walk outside without a jacket.

It was great to see the farmers market bustling for the first time since the holidays. Crowds were not only drawn by the weather, but also by the Good Food Awards that were being held this weekend at the Ferry Building. The GFA “grant awards to outstanding American food producers and the farmers who provide their ingredients.” Here are the winners.

Spring Onions

Spring Onions

Good Food Awards

Good Food Awards

Spring wasn’t only in the air, it was also peeking out from some of the farm stands. I caught my first glimpse this week of spring onions. It isn’t much, but is a sign of what’s to come.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Winter citrus is just now ramping up. Blood oranges and satsumas are my favorite now, but I’ll be hitting the pomelo scene next week for sure.

Satsumas

Satsumas

Orange Slices

Orange Slices

I’ve also been really impressed with the carrots lately, I’m really starting to appreciate how many varietals there are. Little ones, big ones, purple ones, white ones, orange ones. All very tasty.

Baby Beets

Baby Beets

Carrot Bouquet

Carrot Bouquet

Of course, root vegetables in general are excellent now, very colorful and sweeter than they are most of the year. Like carrots, the variety of turnips is impressive.

Scarlet Turnips

Scarlet Turnips

Large Turnips

Large Turnips

Lastly, don’t forget your winter greens and herbs. Kale, chard and especially cabbage are as good now as they will be all year.

Winter Herbs

Winter Herbs

Cabbage

Cabbage

I didn’t buy much today since I left straight from the farmers market to Lake Tahoe. I just stopped by for the beautiful pictures.

What did you find at the market this week?

If you’d like to share your farmers market experience at Summer Tomato, please read this.

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Farmers Market Update: Citrus Season

by | Jan 9, 2011
Blood Oranges

Blood Oranges

This week was my first farmers market trip of 2011, and it’s great to be back. I’m happy to see that in the few weeks I was away the full array of winter citrus fruits has now become available, from brilliantly colored blood oranges to giant pomelos.

Blood oranges with their deep red flesh have a much richer juice than their navel counterparts, and are a fantastic addition to winter cocktails and elixers.

Pomelo

Pomelo

Navel Oranges

Navel Oranges

Here in San Francisco you can also find several varietals of mandarins, the satsuma being the most prevalent. These are great easy snacks because they are small in size and their skin is particularly easy to peel. You can also find grapefruit, lemon, lime and citron, and we’ll be exploring these more in the coming weeks.

Besides citrus, you can also find pears, persimmons, pomegranates and kiwi this time of year. The persimmon I tasted this week might have been the best I’ve ever tried (at Kashiwase Farm), and I recommend getting them while you can since they will only be around a few more weeks. Same for the pears and pomegranates.

Persimmon

Persimmon

Shun Li Asian Pears

Shun Li Asian Pears

I also really love winter vegetables. This season my attention usually turns to hearty greens like kale and chard, as well as winter squash (delicata are my favorite, followed by kambocha–neither of which require peeling).

Delicata Squash

Delicata Squash

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

I’ve also really been enjoying cabbage lately, playing around with recipes for coleslaw, sauerkraut and kimchi.

Organic Cilantro

Organic Cilantro

Winter Produce

Winter Produce

And though I tend to forget about them (but totally shouldn’t), now is the time for root vegetables like radishes, potatoes, sunchokes and fennel. I made an effort this week to bring some home with me.

Fennel

Fennel

Sunchokes

Sunchokes

I can’t get over how pretty these watermelon radishes are.

Watermelon Radish Slice

Watermelon Radish Slice

This time of year I also cook a lot of beans and lentils. The heirloom beans at Rancho Gordo have received national attention for their amazing flavors and textures. I have an impressive collection of them in my pantry.

Scream Sorbet

Scream Sorbet

Rancho Gordo Beans

Rancho Gordo Beans

Finally, though I’m not a sweets person these days (I have completely given up sugar in January) I was happy to see Scream Sorbet has now set up a booth at the Saturday farmers market (previously they only sold on Thursdays). Scream is amazing because they create local, seasonal sorbet flavors that will blow you away. It’s pretty common when inquiring about an ingredient in one of their sorbets to have them point at a nearby produce stand and say, “we’re using those grapes right there.” How awesome is that?

As always I had a wonderful time and it was totally worth dragging myself out of bed, even on a Saturday.

If you’d like to share your farmers market experience at Summer Tomato, please read this.

Today’s purchases*:

*I overslept a bit and the market was pretty picked over. My bad.

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Farmers Market Update: A Lot Like Christmas

by | Dec 12, 2010
Holiday Bouquet

Holiday Bouquet

There’s so much holiday season in the air at the farmers market these days it’s hard to not get all gushy over it. There are trees, wreaths, hot cocoa, carolers, and even a steel drum band playing Christmas music.

So of course, I stocked up on ingredients to make Thai food. Because that’s how I roll.

But before we talk more about all the awesome food I bought this weekend, I want to announce the winner of the Erik Organic cutting board giveaway.

Congratulations Phil Nase @bugi1960! I’ll be in touch about how to pick your design and get it sent out. Happy Holidays!

Now back to Thai food. I know that doesn’t really make sense, but bear with me. We just finished Thanksgiving and Christmas is right around the corner. There will be lots of turkey, potatoes and other root vegetables and traditional American foods for the next few months, and the last of the fall produce is going away.

Potatoes and Squash

Potatoes and Squash

Turnips

Turnips

But I noticed today at the market that I could get kaffir lime leaves (they were labeled “Indonesian lemon leaves”, but I spoke to the vendors and they said there’s no difference). Lime leaves are the essence of Thai soup. I then proceeded to find fresh ginger, lemongrass and Thai chilies. So I grabbed some Chinese eggplant, mint and cilantro and am calling it a party.

Mojito Mint

Mojito Mint

Lemon/Lime Leaf

Lemon/Lime Leaf

It’s as good as Christmas for me.

The other thing I’m most excited about this weekend is the satsuma mandarins. These sweet little guys are the fruit highlight of the winter, in my opinion. They’re the perfect size, easy to eat and endlessly delicious. They also have a much more complex flavor than the box of Cuties you get at Safeway.

Hachiya Persimmons

Hachiya Persimmons

Satsuma Mandarins

Satsuma Mandarins

Also in fruit, the persimmon season is peaking, and while fuyus (the harder, flat shaped persimmons) were the best choice most of the season so far, the softer and long-shaped hachiya persimmons are finally sweet and ripe. At their best the texture is more like a gel than a fruit. It’s incredibly unique and delicious.

And it’s last call for pomegranates.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Ceremonial Tobacco

Ceremonial Tobacco

Beets

Beets

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: Early Winter

by | Dec 5, 2010
Watermelon Radish

Watermelon Radish

I’m loving the changing seasons. Winter is moving in fast, but fall produce is just peaking in flavor.

Pomegranates are amazing right now. They are sweet and don’t make you pucker with tartness like they do early in the season. We’ve been stocking up on the juice and freezing it in ice cube trays to add to sparkling water spritzers for the rest of the year.

Big Hachiya Persimmons

Big Hachiya Persimmons

Pomegranate Ice

Now is also the best time to get persimmons, because they lack the chalky astringency they can have before they’re quite ripe. Remember, fuyu persimmons are eaten while firm (find a dark orange color) and hachiyas are ripe and edible when soft. I’ve noticed a lot of restaurants adding fuyus to salads and even savory dishes.

Colorful Carrots

Colorful Carrots

As winter approaches, we’re also seeing the emergence of root vegetables. Members of the radish family are less spicy and more sweet this time of year, making them perfect for winter salads. Today I stocked up on watermelon radish (aka watermelon daikon) and kohlrabi. I like to eat both of these raw.

Green and Purple Kohlrabi

Green and Purple Kohlrabi

Watermelon Daikon

Watermelon Daikon

But radishes aren’t the only root vegetables to experiment with this time of year. Celery root has a subtle taste like celery but a consistency more like a potato. It’s great to puree, roast or add to soups. Sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes) are another of my winter favorites. They’re flavor is remarkable, reminiscent of artichoke but more like a delicate potato in appearance.

Organic Sunchokes

Organic Sunchokes

Celery Root and Carrot

Celery Root and Carrot

Parsnips are another delicious root vegetable great for cooking. They look like white carrots but with a more herbal flavor. They are also great for roasting and purees.

Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells

Large Parsnips

Large Parsnips

Although it is fairly late in the season, there are still some peppers around. Though the selection is limited, you can still get beauties like these Christmas bells.

Winter is also a great time for greens. Chard, collards, kale, cabbages all get sweeter this time of year, and are a great accompaniment to roasted winter squash with beans or meat dishes.

Cabbages

Cabbages

Winter Greens

Winter Greens

Brussels sprouts and broccoli are also sweeter than usual.

Organic Broccoli

Organic Broccoli

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

I also found a few more exotic ingredients this week, including Indonesian lemon leaves (any relation to kafir lime leaves?) and aloe vera.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera

Indonesian Lemon Leaf

Indonesian Lemon Leaf

Oh, and crab season has started!

Dungess Crabs

Dungeness Crabs

Today’s purchases:

If you would like to share your own local farmers market with Summer Tomato readers please click here.

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Farmers Market Update: Love Apples

by | Feb 14, 2010
Love Apples

Love Apples

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The big news at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market this week is the appearance of tomatoes. I won’t pretend these are summer tomatoes (it will be at least a month before I bother to buy any – no way they have any flavor yet), but their appearance is a sign of wonderful things to come.

I hope you all have a beautiful day.

xoxox

dp

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Farmers Market Update: Miami

by | Feb 7, 2010
Margie's Goodies

Margie's Goodies

In honor of the Super Bowl and permanently nice weather, today’s guest farmers market update is from sunny Miami, Florida.

Brilliant and irreverent, Holly Hickman is one of my favorite healthy eating bloggers. Definitely check out (and subscribe to) her blog and follow her on Twitter @Holly_Hickman. You will not regret it.

Holly is also the author of Healthy Eats Here, a guide to local, sustainable restaurants across America. If you like good, healthy food and have done any traveling you know how difficult it can be to find a decent meal on the road. Holly has figured it all out for us and organized an easy to use, state-by-state guide. I’m very proud to be an affiliate for such awesomeness.

I hope you enjoy Holly’s adventures at the farmers market as much as I did. And be sure to listen to the audio clip at the bottom of the post!

Farmers Market Update: South Beach (Pinecrest)

by Holly Hickman

Greetings from South Beach, or, as I like to call it, The Fanny Parade.

The locusts football fans are in town this week for the Super Bowl–otherwise known in Cocaine Cowboy Country as the Super Blow–and I am in need of escape. Normally, escaping from Miami simply requires that you grab your typical fanny parader off the street and use her as a human floatation device. (As I told Darya, she might live near Silicon Valley, but I live surrounded by Silicone Valleys.) However, our lovely ladies are busy partying, so I’m heading to my other –real– escape: the local farmers market.

You might think from the above paragraph that I do not love my adopted town. I do; I just like to tease it. And the great source of my love for this town is not the ocean or insistently happy weather or even the proximity to phenomenal Cuban coffee: it is, ladies and gents, the Pinecrest farmers market.

We have a number of markets here but Pinecrest, although a 30-minute drive from my house, is my go-to haven. My favorite farmers are all there: Margie Pikarsky of Redland Organics; resident goat whisperer Hani Khouri of Hani’s Organics; and Gabrielle Berryer of Gaby’s Farm.

Behold why they are my favorites:

Tomatoes from Margie's stand

Tomatoes from Margie's stand

If you’re reading this from Iowa, I am sorry. Those are–apologies again, this time to Darya–summer tomatoes. Only they burst forth in JANUARY ’round these parts. Yes! And go through about April. Yes. And Margie grows the best of them.

“Do you know the differences among all these?” she asked me.

Um, no.

“These are the green zebra. This is the Cherokee Purple, kind of a dusky rose. Ooh! Yellow Pear. And then these kind start off pale but will blush into a beautiful mahogany on your counter. Look at the the heirlooms. Beautiful, no?”

I bought two packs.

Farmer Margie & her nearly sold-out broccoli

Farmer Margie & her nearly sold-out broccoli

This is Margie trimming her magical swirling broccoli. OK, so they only taste like magic.

“It’s because of the frost,” she said.  “Makes ’em sweeter.”

Ka-ching!

She was also selling (clockwise from top left of main photo): freshly-dug potatoes and beets. (She digs beets.) Beautiful Florida avocado, which are not as creamy as the California kind, but which are as large as footballs and make a fine game-time guacamole. Local wild honey, assorted cabbages, herbs such as lemon grass and Syrian oregano (“the only kind”), turnips and luffa. Yes, for scrubbing your skin; it’s a plant that grows beautifully here in subrtropical climes. She also sells those mulit-colored carrots, plus Asian greens such as tatsoi (perfect for stir-fries), several kinds of organic Florida citrus and some gorgeous eggplant. Anything that grows well in Thailand grows well here.

I could spend all day at this stand, but I am hungry for falafel. Time to go see Hani and his wife, Mary Lee.

Hani and Mary Lee Khouri of Hanisorganics.com

Hani and Mary Lee Khouri of Hanisorganics.com

Hani is the only goat farmer around, and, luckily for us, his goat milk, goat ice cream and goat cheese are all exquisite. That is why I call him the goat whisperer. He’s originally from Lebanon and sells Mediterranean delights such as fattoush (a pita and tomato salad that won’t make you fattoush); fool (a delightful legume-based dish which, again, won’t make you into one); and fantastic hummus and falafel.

Left from top: fattoush, fool & lupini beans

Left from top: fattoush, fool & lupini beans

Hani made me a gorgeous falafel sandwich with his home-pickled turnips while I asked Mary Lee about their beautiful goat’s milk ice cream.  There was none, she said, because the goats are “kidding,” and she doesn’t want to take their milk. Sane and humane.

Hani Khouri makes sure Holly isn't cranky

Hani Khouri makes sure Holly isn't cranky

So, no ice cream from Hani, but I know where I can get some: Gaby’s Farm.

The aptly named Gaby Berryer

The aptly named Gaby Berryer

Gabrielle Berryer is originally from Haiti and spent years working as a psychologist. One day, she decided to buy a farm south of Miami so that she could grow tropical fruits. And she does–oh how she does! Starfruit, canistel (a creamy, custardy fruit), mamey (which I wrote a post about, since I love it so) passion fruit and myriad other delights.

Gaby's Ice Creams

Gaby's Ice Creams

If you have never tasted any of these fruits, buy a ticket here. NOW. And then go see Gaby. She not only grows these delectable paens to tropical love; she makes ice cream out of them. People. Sit. They have a teensy bit of corn syrup in them to keep them creamy and give them good consistency, but other than that, they are perfect. You can find them at Whole Foods throughout the southeast, but I think she should go national.

Here’s a wee interview with my favorite farmers where we learn about kidding, tropical fruits, and why eating stone crabs is sustainable:

Holly at the South FL Farmers Market

And here is the result of my purchases–homemade pizza that we ate topped with an arugula salad, plus an eggplant/tomato riff on baba ganoush. Dessert? Gaby’s ice cream, of course. Darya, you must come to South Florida; they make the magic happen here. And I’m not talking about Mickey.

Dinner with my purchases

Dinner with my purchases

Purchases:

Redland Organics

  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Broccoli
  • Arugula
  • Salad Greens
  • Asian Greens
  • Kohlrabi
  • Starfruit
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Savoy Cabbage

Hani’s Organics

  • Fattoush salad
  • Lupini beans — eat ’em like peanuts
  • Fool salad
  • Falafel wrap

Gaby’s Farm

  • Canistel Ice Cream

From Darya: Are any more of you holding out on me with winter tomatoes? Time to fess up!

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