The Rowayton Farmers Market has finally started up on Fridays and I went for the first time this year today. This Connecticut farmers market has been rated as one of the best in the country and there is good reason -- not only do they have wonderful vendors with a variety of things to sell, they also have a beautiful location right on the water. I love to piddle through this market because it's small and easy to navigate. I can put my kids on the big lawn and make my way through the entire market in about 15 minutes flat.
Rowayton's market offers the usual fresh produce, plants, and organic meat. But it's also the place to pick up a warm loaf of bread from Beldotti Bakery, freshly made pasta -- the Spring pea, mint, and basil being a favorite -- and pickles that can't be beat. As the weeks change, so do the vendors. Last week brought fresh mozzarella, pesto and a vendor selling whole grain snacks! Of course, shopping all this local produce makes a person hungry, so don't forget to eat at one of the gourmet trucks. I had the lobster roll with kimchi slaw from lobstercraft and the kids shared a pizza that was prepared fresh and ready in 4 minutes...yum! The cupcake truck or Ronnybrook dairy offer plenty of sweet treats to end with.
As a kid, I remember my parents making the occasional pilgrimage to the state farmers market down near the airport in Atlanta. This was usually done when returning from a family visit in South Georgia. The Georgia state farmers market in the 1980s was nothing like the fancy farmer's markets we see today that are thick with produce and artisans and bakers. No, this market had large concrete stalls with an overhang like that of a sixties style carport. Farmers with enough dirt under their nails to grow a potato brought their dirty but fresh produce and needed to sell it to make a living. My parents would pick up a few things -- usually watermelon, pole beans, lady peas and corn. But one thing will always stand out: the time my parents bought my sister and I two big sugar canes. These tall fibrous canes were sweet and of no use to our family, but Holly and I thought we had hit the jackpot with this novelty.
Much later, a famous Atlanta restauranteur helped to open a wonderful market that was housed in the parking lot of our church in Buckhead. This market was teaming with cute girls selling their jellies, grandmothers hawking handmade pillows, and organic meat producers. Hands down, it has some of the best bacon I've ever tasted; they have an ice cream vendor that sells the only Pimm's Cup ice cream I have ever seen (a Pimm's Cup being my favorite summer cocktail); and a guitar picker that plays all the schoolhouse rock numbers (like "I'm just a bill").
It's fascinating to see how the variety of produce changes from area to area. While I am sure I won't find okra or lady peas here in Connecticut anytime soon, I am also quite sure I also wouldn't be lucky enough to pick up clams or a lobster roll in Atlanta.