The Austin Chronicle

Farmers Market Report: August 24-25, 2013

By Kate Thornberry, August 23, 2013, 1:00pm, On the Range

The slightly cooler weather has been great for the crops, not to mention the rain we have been having here and there. There are a few things that are still producing, but many farmers are waiting for fall plantings of peppers and tomatoes to mature.

The star of the season right now are the melons: watermelons, cantaloupes, honeydews, and others. Two Happy Children Farm have all these, plus Ambrosia melons and Israeli melons.

Cucumbers are still going strong, as are all varieties of sweet onion. Okra is producing well, and many farmers are pulling this Spring’s potatoes out of the drying shed during the Dog Days lull. It’s also the time of year for soft-shell crabs. K & S Seafood has some gorgeous specimens. Easy to prepare, soft shell crabs make a great sandwich: just roll in seasoned flour, fry in butter, and serve on buttered French bread. Richardson Farms at the Barton Creek Market sets aside a small area of their table for J.J.’s Good Things: prepared mustards, hot sauces, and pickles. The newest addition to J.J.’s line is salsa, and it is really good and really HOT! It is definitely one of my favorite market salsas, which is saying a lot because there are quite a few excellent ones. I also highly recommend J.J.’s Honey Mustard and Jalapeño Hot Sauce.

Fruitful Hill Farm has beaten Jim Richardson to the punch with a new crop of popcorn. Making popcorn on the stove with real melted butter takes about three minutes longer than throwing a heavily processed bag in the microwave, and the flavor and texture are so much better. Fruitful Hill’s popcorn is on the cob, while the Richardson Farms popcorn is already hulled and in a bag. Peach Creek Farm has quite simply run out of pork to sell, and won’t be at the SFC Downtown Market again until next spring. Their Berkshire hogs have birthed two new litters however, so everything is on the right track. We are all just going to have to wait while they fatten up those piglets. While Peach Creek Farm is (temporarily) leaving the SFC Downtown Market, FLOUR Bakery is joining it. FLOUR makes very authentic artisan breads (mostly sourdoughs with a relatively long shelf life) and a few pastries (monkey bread and toaster pastries come to mind). FLOUR is a mainstay of the HOPE Farmers Market on Sundays, and they have reached the point where they are able to increase production. They will be facing some stuff competition from Texas French Bread at the Downtown Market; nevertheless FLOUR's strongest suit is sourdough loaves, which is kind of a niche, so the two bakeries may be able to coexist. After all, Red Rabbit Vegan Doughnuts and Cake and Spoon have been able to flourish alongside Texas French Bread. (Psst! TFB! Start selling your bagels at the Farmers Markets! They are the best in town!)

You’ve been listening to me have a sad about Peeler Farms deserting us for the San Antonio Pearl Brewery Market (which is admittedly about a hundred miles closer to their farm). Well, now I am doing a happy dance because they are going to be selling at the Tuesday SFC East Market. This market runs from 3 PM-7 PM at the Cap Metro M Station at MLK and Miriam Avenue. Peeler Farms sells some just amazing chicken and beef, as well as occasionally having duck breasts and whole ducks. There is so much great coffee available in Austin, it is foolish to pick a favorite. That said, I have tried several varieties of Casa Brasil coffee this summer and I have been blown away by the complexity and richness of their coffees. They also have a very helpful handout about cold-brewing (did you know that the beans should be very coarsely ground for cold brewing? Coarse, as in, lightly run over them with a rolling pin?) If you haven’t tried Casa Brasil coffee yet, by all means do. Just buy a cup of their cold brew at the Market, and you’ll be sold.

Vital Farms will possibly have blue eggs for sale this weekend at the Barton Creek Market. If not this week, then next week. I’ve gotta admit, I want some...because they are blue! More SFC News: the Sustainable Food Center has a new website for their Farmers Markets that not only lists vendors, but has an interactive map that can tell you exactly where a given vendor will be at each week’s market. Here is the interactive map for the Downtown Market - what you can do is select a vendor from the list on the side, and that vendor’s location will be highlighted in the map. This, people, is a real breakthrough in Farmers Market technology! As I understand it, this map will be updated weekly, so you can even see whether or not a particular vendor is even going to be there (sometimes farmers have to skip because they have farming to do, which can be frustrating.) SFC for the Win!

Dai Due is taking a break from the Mueller Sunday Market, and will not be serving breakfast and brunch there until September 8th. But they will be at the Downtown Market on Saturdays, and here is this week’s menu:

French Toast with Wild Boar Banger with sweet cracklins and stewed peaches; Fresh Herb Italian Sausage Sandwich with tomato sauce and mozzarella;  Beef Picadillo Taco with onions, parsley, and fermented pasilla salsa; Purple Hull Pea Succotash with a fried duck egg, smoked sausage, salt pork, and sweet peppers; Cafe a la Olla Mexican coffee with molasses, brown sugar, and spices. Lime Soda with verbena, lemon balm, and lemongrass.

Dai Due will be selling Blood Sausage with Apples and Bacon and Hot Boudin Coils this Saturday, as well as a Fermented Pasilla Chile Salsa that Jesse says is one of the best things he has ever made. Be sure to check out the news about Dai Due's upcoming brick-and-mortar location here.

See you at the Markets!

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