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The Farmers' Market Report: Dec. 21-22, 2013

Heirloom tomatoes, Meyer lemons, and perhaps a Christmas ham
Kate Thornberry, 10:15am, Fri. Dec. 20, 2013

Can you even believe how gorgeous these are?
photo by Kate Thornberry
We are back to pleasant temperatures this weekend, which will be a relief for the farmers, as the last two weekends have been challenging. This is the last weekend before Christmas, so I imagine that all the booths will be pulling out the stops, there will be lots of vendors at every market, and plenty of last minute gift items.

These tomatoes are just as pretty; looking at them, it is hard to believe it is midwinter!
photo by Kate Thornberry
But first lets talk about these heirloom tomatoes! If you have been missing the tomatoes in your salad, there is no reason to continue the deprivation: the greenhouse tomatoes have arrived. The beauties pictured are both from the Downtown SFC Market at Republic Square; at the very top are pictured Cherokee Purples, Beefsteaks, Green Zebras and a Gold variety whose name I have forgotten. The second photograph shows tomatoes from Engel Farms in Fredericksburg, and their array includes Sungolds and Sweet 100s. You aren’t going to find tomatoes like these at all the markets; head Downtown if you want ones like these.
Hard Texas baking pears
photo by Kate Thornberry
Also appearing downtown last Saturday were the hard Texas baking pears that I keep going on about. Brought to us by Lightsey Farms, they do last well, and I am hoping Lightsey will be there again this Saturday. These are just the best pears for baking and preserving, they release a wonderful hint of vanilla when cooked. They would probably be great poached, too, although I haven’t yet tried that.
Meyer lemons are at their best when they are slightly green like this
photo by Kate Thornberry
Though Meyer lemons grow well in Austin, most folks just grow enough for their own use; they are seldom seen at the Farmers Markets. Right now, however, Caeda Farms is selling them at the Barton Creek Market, so if you have been looking for them, you should be able to score.
Beautiful cabbages
photo by Kate Thornberry
Many farmers are starting to bring in nice, big cabbages. Cabbages are among the most frost resistant of crops, so those Arctic blasts we just had did little to deter them. The same goes for broccoli and some varieties of kale; as long as they are well watered, they can stand up to freezing overnight temperatures.
Mushrooms are so much better when they are just-picked-fresh like these
photo by Kate Thornberry
Another never-failing crop that is available at the Farmers Market year-round is mushrooms. Both the Barton Creek Market and the Downtown Market have Kitchen Pride tables (the same regional farm that supplies Whole Foods and Central Market). But the Farmers Market mushroom vendors bring wonderfully fresh Shiitakes, Portabellas, and Hen-of-the-Woods mushrooms, in addition to the regular Buttons and Criminis. Sometimes they bring Oyster mushrooms, too.
I know it isn't a Whole Ham, but that is sliced ham on the end there-
photo by Kate Thornberry
What was that about Christmas hams? Flying Pig Provision Company has smoked several hams just for the Holidays, and they will be for sale on Saturday. Now, the Flying Pig hams are spectacular, the best ham I have ever tasted in my life. Jerome uses all natural hams, which he cures for a week and then smokes for eight hours, and they come fully cooked with a honey mustard glaze to be applied after heating. He has two whole hams (roughly 9 pounds each, $100) and four half hams (roughy 4.5 pounds, $50) available this weekend on a first-come, first-serve basis.

He will also have a second round of hams that can be picked up at his commercial kitchen on Christmas Eve. You can order your ham at the Flying Pig website: http://www.homeofthepig.com, and you can pay at the site, or at the market, or over the phone. I am going to buy one and I can barely wait to get it! Flying pig sells at the Barton Creek Market and the Sunday Bluebonnet Market.

If Flying Pig is all sold out when you get there, Richardson Farms will also have hams for sale. Richardson Farms sells at Sunset Valley, Barton Creek and Downtown.

Speaking of Holiday roasts, Dai Due prepared gorgeous rose veal roasts, brined picnic hams, brined shoulder roasts, fresh pork roasts, and duck tamales, then promptly sold out of them all before market day even rolled around. But Jesse and Co. will have Porchetta Pork roasts for sale ($24/lb), rose veal sausages ($16/lb) and his unique Texas Mincemeat ($20/quart) which features peaches, huckleberries, and figs. After this weekend, Dai Due is going to take a couple of weeks off, and will return to the markets on January 11.

Fresh cilantro is abundant at all the markets this time of year
photo by Kate Thornberry
Dewberry Hills Farm will be at Sunset Valley and Sunset Valley only on Saturday. To quote Jane:

“We've got some stocking stuffer suggestions for those difficult people on your holiday list. As you know, we always want to help here at Dewberry Hills and we know it can be hard to come up with gifts at this time of year. So we offer the following ideas:

1) For the incurable romantic- how about a bag of chicken hearts? 'Cause nothing says I love you like chickens hearts. Really.

2) For that Goth teen that hates everything and everyone-chicken feet. With a little work, you can create truly unique earrings and necklaces. It's jewelry and crafts project all rolled into one. Hours of sullen fun.

3) For the kid that has everything- chicken head finger puppets. They can turn them into super heroes or princesses or whatever their imagination takes them.”

Well, she convinced me to buy a bag of chicken feet!

Celtic Seafare's salmon array, and it is all fantastic
photo by Kate Thornberry
For the last two Saturdays, Celtic Seafare has not only been selling hot- and cold-smoked salmon, but has also been making soup, bagels, and sandwiches, and selling them, too. I am almost afraid to claim that Sebastien will be doing the same this weekend, but let’s just say it’s likely.
Oh Kimchi's Mool
photo by Kate Thornberry
Oh Kimchi has been making a special kind of kimchi: Mool, which is made from Daikon radish. This is a very popular kind of kimchi, it might even be the best kind; it is certainly the prettiest. Oh Kimchi sells at HOPE, Barton Creek, and Bluebonnet.
Kiskadee Drinking Chocolate- A MUST
photo by Kate Thornberry
Chocolate: in my opinion, two chocolate gifts that will delight any sentient being are Kiskadee Drinking Chocolate, and Cocoa Puro’s Kakawa Cocoa Beans. Kiskadee sells at the Mueller Market on Sundays, and any of their chocolate items are a great gift (though the drinking chocolate is a MUST-HAVE); Cocoa Puro sells at the Downtown Market, but I haven’t seen him there during the nasty weather. It is to be hoped that he will be there this Saturday for the Christmas rush.

If you didn’t catch this further up the page, Saturday is Dai Due’s last appearance until January 11. Here is this weekend’s menu:

Breakfast Sandwich Country-style breakfast sausage, a scrambled egg, and Stryk pepper jack on a Gougere roll; Seafood Gumbo with snapper, brotula fish, shrimp, green onion, and rice; Duck Tamal with pecans, tangerine, a fried egg and sour serrano salsa;  Achiote Veal Rib Taco with marinated cabbage and green chile salsa; Mesquite Bean Soda and Cafe a la Olla.

See you at the Markets!

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