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Farmers Market Report: March 30-31

Easter weekend happenings at the markets
Kate Thornberry, 9:27am, Fri. Mar. 29, 2013

An array of New Bread Rising breads--the Sourdough is second from the top left
The weather prognosticators say that this weekend is going to be warm (in the eighties) and probably rainy (we need it!), but we’ll see. They couldn’t have been more wrong about last weekend, after all.

There are numerous Easter festivities planned at the markets for the small fry, and I am hoping it will be fine enough for them to happen. How about this? Dry mornings and torrential rains overnight? It could happen! (If it does I am totally going to try to take credit.)

On Saturday, there will be an Eater egg hunt and a visit from the Easter Bunny at Barton Creek Market, as well as a display of chicken coops by Austin Urban Coops. Both activities are set to be repeated on Easter Sunday at the Barton Creek Highland Mall Market. The Highland Mall Market will probably get a bump of business, because the Mueller Market is going to be closed for Easter, as will the new Lone Star Market at Bee Caves.

The HOPE Farmers Market, however, will be open on Easter Sunday and will have a fun Easter egg hunt for the kids, music, and yoga.

The ONLY locally grown sweet peppers to be had at present (as far as I know) from Caeda Farms at Barton Creek Market
Lettuce is still gorgeous at all the markets, as are green onions. It is way too early in the year to get bell peppers and cucumbers from regular farming (it is just about time to plant peppers, not harvest them); however Caeda Farms at the Barton Creek Market has beautiful red and yellow bell peppers from their greenhouses, as well as English cucumbers. I believe Caeda is the one and only table where fresh local sweet peppers are to be had; but you can get greenhouse cucumbers from Finca Pura Vida and Flintrock Hill Farm (both at Sunset Valley) and from Wild River Farms at the HOPE Market as well.

Brussels Sprouts have also been holding steady because of the blessed cool weather. Normally they would have ended weeks ago, but many farmers have a new crop of lovely little sprouts to sell.

Gigantic bags of organic oranges and grapefruits from JBG (all markets):
2 Happy Children Farm is continuing to harvest sweet young artichokes, and Johnson’s Backyard Garden continues to carry enormous bags of organic citrus from the valley. One of these $15 bags will get you two+ gallons of fresh-squeezed juice, which is much cheaper than buying fresh-squeezed anywhere else. Johnson’s also has a new crop of parsnips in (again, thanks to the cool weather). If you are making a roast of lamb for Easter, be sure to pick up some parsnips to roast alongside. In fact, I suggest roasted parsnips and carrots, with a side of greens.
A gallon of fresh squeezed orange juice-I got two and a half gallons from one bag of oranges!
Speaking of lamb roasts, Dai Due Butcher Shop will be selling two different pre-seasoned lamb roasts at the Saturday SFC Market Downtown. One is a boneless leg roast, the other a Porchetta lamb roast, both stuffed with savory lamb sausage and rice. Dai Due will also be selling the Easter Bunny, a local, de-boned pastured, brined rabbit, stuffed with bread crumbs, mushrooms, salt pork, thyme, cream and brandy. (I assume this dish is for childless households?) Chef Griffiths will also have on hand a Green Garlic Scape Terrine, made with Dewberry Hills chicken, rabbit tenderloins, orange-infused brandy, local cream, spices, carrots, fresh herbs and citrus zest. Sliced thickly, it is a perfect first course for Easter brunch.

Should you be young or otherwise fancy-free this Easter, with no Easter Sunday dinner to attend, you can still get your lamb on with Dai Due, as they will be serving Lamb Barbacoa Tortas with refried butter beans, pickled radish, mint salsa and queso fresco. Also on the hot menu will be Crawfish, Shrimp and Chaurice Etoufeé with Spring onions and rice, and Chorizo and Egg Tacos with cheddar and red chile salsa.

Pogue Mahone Garlic and dill slices
Two weeks ago I tried the Salsa Ranchero from Concha’s Salsas, and I described it in these pages as “complex”. When I saw Concha last weekend at the Sunset Valley Market, I asked her what she does differently from other salsa makers. She told me that her Ranchero Salsa is made with entirely red ingredients: red tomatoes, sweet red peppers, red serrano chiles, chile pequin and red onions. “The flavor is different when the pepper turns red,” she explained. This week I tried her Salsa Verde, made with green bell peppers, cilantro, green onions and tomatillo. Slightly tart, it is a classic salsa verde and was wonderful on pork tacos.

I also tried New Bread Rising’s Sourdough. Baker Neil confided to me that he has had a breakthrough with his sourdough starter that has resulted in rounder, taller loaves. I made luscious grilled cheese sandwiches with New Bread Rising’s sourdough and Full Quiver Farm’s Jalapeno Jack cheese, accompanied by Pogue Mahone’s Original Dill and Garlic Pickles. If you haven’t tired Pogue Mahone pickles yet, save up to buy a jar. They are not cheap, but they really are the best pickles you have ever tasted. I have been making my own pickles for thirty years, and they kick my dill pickles’ ass. (Asses?)

Newcomers to the market: Flume Creek (another Good Food Award winner this year) was back at the Barton Creek Market with their wares last weekend, as was a relatively new BBQ sauce maker, 2BQ’d. More on the barbecue sauce story as it develops!

Dewberry Hills Chicken will be at both the Sunset Valley and Downtown SFC markets this weekend.

Speaking of Downtown, if you have a sophisticated chocolate palate, treat yourself to some Cocoa Puro chocolate covered cacao beans for Easter. Just think of them as really tiny chocolate Easter eggs.

Cilantro and snow peas from Winfield Farm
What’s looking good: artichokes, lettuce, green onions, all sorts of greens (but especially Swiss chard), snow peas from Winfield Farm (Barton Creek Market), sweet potatoes from Blue Fork Farm, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, mountains of perfect carrots nearly everywhere, spinach, fennel, beets, and cilantro.

Also, eggs are at the flood again, and the goats are back up to full milk and cheese production!

See you at the markets!

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