Contrary to what produce-vain Californians may like to believe, Texans do know what vegetables are. I witnessed a particularly pleasing spectacle of produce worship last Saturday morning at the Sunset Valley Farmers market just outside of Austin while visiting my beloved Jenny, high school bff and fellow S.F. native. The horn-tooting section of the market's website boasts that it was listed in the top 5 farmers' markets in the country by Eating Well magazine and in the top 10 by the Audubon Society. Apparently our own Ferry Plaza market ranks among the best, along with those in Ithaca, Madison, and Santa Fe.
Jenny and I pulled into the super-sized parking lot at around 10am and I could already feel the humidity clamp down on me as I stepped out of the car. The sun was particularly brutal (the heat must have hit the mid-90s already) but the excitement of various pickled things, brilliant red tomatoes, shiny green and yellow peppers, and sweet juicy peaches soon distracted me. The market is set up in a large rectangle, with farmers on the perimeter and artisans and music in the center mush pot. I picked up a peck of pickled okra (okay, just a jar) made with love by The Square Headed Germans. In a minor tragedy, it was eventually confiscated from my carry-on at the airport security check, so I never did get to taste those spicy garlic-infused okra. [muffled sobs]
My favorite farm stand was Morning Glory Farm, where the adorable pair in the topmost photo took us on a tour of their mini-daikon, assorted greens, and tea herbs. The mini daikon is in the lower corner of the photo on the left (above). Ain't it cute?
Their assortment of greens in particular whetted my appetite for weirdness. Bunches of red orach mountain spinach and wild lamb's quarters stood proudly in their own buckets, while other greens nestled together in salad mix baggies. Gracie (with the scrunchied pig-tails) says she puts the seeds of the wild lamb's quarters in fritters, but otherwise you can just eat these leaves raw as if you were a little lamb yourself. Other strange offerings included emu oil, yellow dock root, chasteberry, and horehound.
Jenny and I decided to sample the "everything but the kitchen sink" baggie, which included the following:
- beet greens
- pea greens
The salad was hearty though a little bitter, so I added yellow peach slices on top. The combination was delicious. It didn't even need salad dressing.
My favorite artisan stand was the charming Belle and Burger. Belle also has a blog where she gives you ideas for being crafty (watch for the upcoming make-your-own-undies demo) and an online shop at Etsy, clearinghouse of handmade items to coo and drool over. I bought a hand-sewn card with a fabric strawberry and different-colored threads criss-crossing over it.