Farmers Market Report: March 9-10, 2013

Strawberries, artichokes, celery, fava beans and pea shoots

Rare Texas Celery (Barton Creek Market)
We may have a year-round growing season, but there are very specific (and often short) times that particular items are in season. No season is as fleeting as the Texas spring; often, if you miss a market or two, you will miss the local Spring delicacies entirely.

This weekend, if you get to the market early, you may be able to corner a few of 2 Happy Children Farm’s young artichokes. I finally was able to get a couple last week at the Barton Creek Market, and they are just as tender and delicious as I had imagined. They will be sold out by 10 am though, most likely, so get there early!

Strawberries are available from far more growers: STAR market (Barton Creek), Finca Pura Vida (Sunset Valley), and Engel Farms (HOPE and Downtown) will all have strawberries, as will the Boggy Creek Farmstand on Lyons Road.

Fresh Fava beans at Boggy Creek Farm
In addition to strawberries, Boggy Creek will also be selling fresh Fava beans this Saturday. The crop this year has been good; no hard freezes and few aphids. (Fresh, locally-grown Fava beans are practically the definition of a ephemeral Texas Spring treat.)

Speaking of which, I have yet to see any asparagus with my own eyes at any market! I’ve heard rumors, but that’s all. (Actually a lady at the Mueller Market had a sign once but was sold out.) I usually buy my asparagus from Farmer McKemie at Barton Creek; the asparagus has got to be showing up soon!

2 Happy Children and Braune Farm both have that impossible crop: Texas grown celery. Impossible because, celery needs lots of water (ha!) and lots of cool days (HA! HA!) to grow, which is why it is mostly grown in Oregon. It takes many months for a celery plant to grow to full size, so the plants have to be kept alive through at least a month or two of hundred degree days. It’s hard to believe any farmers pull it off! But like I said, these two outfits have done the impossible. The Texas celery is much more flavorful than the grocery store stuff, and contains a ton more soluble sodium, it is really pretty amazing. I buy a head a week while it’s around, it’s great for snacking and all the less lovely parts are invaluable in stocks.

Fruitful Hill Farm will be bringing lovely pea shoots to the markets this weekend. They are so dressy and delicious in any dish they grace, they are the veritable squash blossoms of Spring.

HOPE Farmers Market at Plaza Saltillo
This Sunday will be the Grand Opening of the new HOPE Farmers Market Plaza Saltillo location, and in addition to an expanded list of vendors, there will be music and festivities. I went to the “soft” opening last Sunday, and I must say the new location is wonderful. The vendors (well, half the vendors) are under permanent roofing, keeping them and their produce cool and dry. The Plaza is beautiful, with lots of convenient places to sit and eat, it looks and feels like a gracious Spanish Plaza.

The FLOUR bakery which sells at the HOPE Market has added ciabatta rolls to their line-up. They are excellent and quite a bargain!

FLOUR Bakery at the HOPE Market
Dewberry Hills Farm (Really Good Chicken) will be at both the Sunset Valley and the Downtown Markets this weekend. They are expanding their farm these days, due no doubt the the growing demand for their wares.

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to pick up a bottle of Drippin’ Sauce Sweet Onion Ketchup. Somehow in my nearsighted cluelessness, I had managed to walk past the Drippin’ Sauce table at Barton Creek for apparently years without noticing they were there. Well, the joke was on me because these small-batch ketchups are a new standard in ketchup wonderfulness. I have always been a vocal defender of our national sauce, even back when it was considered uncultured to request it in a restaurant (yes, this is true! Waiters would roll their eyes at you!) Drippin’ Sauce is available in four flavors: Sweet Onion, Mild Chipotle, Hot Chipotle and Special Reserve. All are made with real tomatoes, real onions, real garlic, apple cider vinegar and real brown sugar, unlike commercial ketchups that use powdered onions, grain vinegar, and HFCS. My bottle of Sweet Onion Ketchup is nearly gone, and I can’t wait to try the other flavors.

Sampler set of Drippin' Sauce quality Ketchups
Full Quiver Farms Low-Temperature Pasteurized milk is so good, it must be tasted to be believed. I bought a jug of half and half last week, and this week I am going to break down and get the heavy cream for some awesome strawberry shortcakes.

Speaking of strawberries, Confituras is breaking out the strawberry jam these days. Last week they sold Strawberry/Meyer Lemon Jam, and this week they will be adding Strawberry Vanilla Bean Jam. Get it while you can, there's nothing like real strawberry jam.

New Bread Rising at Barton Creek Market has an incredible Green Chile and Polenta loaf that disappeared in record time at my house. These loaves are rustic and whole grain, so they pack a lot of flavor and nutrition. Bread that actually nourishes is a rare treat, and I’ll be honest: it’s hard to go back once you’ve tried it!

The full line of Full Quiver Farms Milk
Mueller News: Pure Luck Goat Cheese has added eggs to their table! If these eggs are anything like the cheese, they’ll be wining national egg awards before you know it.

Late Breaking Barton Creek Market news: If you bring a friend to the market, each of you will get a $5 coupon to use toward your purchases!

See you at the Markets!

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Farmers Market Report, 2 Happy Children Farm, Barton Creek Farmers Market, Boggy Creek Farm, Braune Farm, Confituras, Dewberry Hills Farm, Downtown Farmers Market, Drippin' Sauce, Engel Farms, finca pura vida farm, FLOUR Bakery, Fruitful Hill Farm, Full Quiver Farms, HOPE Farmers Market, Mueller Farmers Market, New Bread Rising, STAR Farmers Market, Sunset Valley Farmers Market

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