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Field Trip to the Sunset Valley Farmers Market

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Some friends of mine were recently giving me a hard time about always going to the Downtown Farmers market, so a couple of weekends ago, my friend Roxanne and I decided to head to the Sunset Valley Farmers Market and see what all the fuss was about.

I had been to the market before and thought it was okay. But everyone kept telling me it was so much bigger and better than the Downtown market that I thought I should check it out again.

Well, it is bigger. There are more vendors, but not more farm vendors – being the nerd that I am, I counted. I was happy to see that a number of farms and meat purveyors are the same, meaning that they are finding a way to be represented at both and have greater support from the community.

There were more artists and prepared foods. The guy with the yummy rotisserie chickens that comes to the Wednesday Triangle market was there. There was a very cool woman named Amanda May who runs a natural cleaning products and services company called The Purple Fig Cleaning Coop (512.351.1405 or I bought some of her great multi-purpose cleaner.

The big disappointment of the day was that there was no one selling uncooked poultry; I ended up going downtown anyway to get Cornish Game Hens (see previous post). The second was that a number of the vendors weren’t local. The coffee booth is from Houston and the Doctor Krackers (which are awesome) are from Dallas which kind of undermines the whole shop local thing.

My final hang up is that the market isn’t a nonprofit. I’m not against people making money, but the many of the other markets are nonprofits which means they are supporting farmers AND reinvesting the money in the community.

So, having said all that, if it was around the corner from my house, I’d go too. But it’s not so I’ll probably keep shopping at the Downtown market and head over there when I need cleaning supplies from Amanda – seriously you should check them out.

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Woo hoo! It’s Spring – and I have the strawberries to prove it

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Today was an auspcious day to be at the farmers market. It was sunny, but cold and the market was in the shadows of Austin’s progress. The building at the northeast corner of 4th & Guadalupe, most recently the Fox & Hound, but most fondly remembered as the Waterloo Brew Pub, was ripped to the ground this morning. It was odd to be shopping with the sounds of the heavy construction equipment working in the background.

I knew it was coming because I’d heard about the condos they are going to build there, but Roxanne and I couldn’t help but be disappointed when we saw it. And, it definitely set a different tone for the market this morning. Brian from Texas French Bread seemed particularly distraught.

All of that was forgotten or at least put to the side, when I saw the first sign of spring – strawberries!!!!!! I was so excited. I love strawberries. But more importantly, I’ve been desperately trying to come up with a dessert for my sister’s birthday dinner tomorrow night and was hoping to find something at the market rather than have to buy something at the store. And there they were – as if the magic market genie had granted me my weekly wish.

Prizes like the early strawberries are why I go to the market early. By 10 am, those strawberries were gone.

You can definitely see the season starting to shift at the market. It is still primarily dominated by winter vegetables, but the signs of spring are coming around the corner.

Since I had my camera with me this week, I took photos of some of my favorite vendors (below). If you haven’t been to the market lately, you should join us some Saturday. I’ll be venturing out to other markets soon as well; I’m getting peer pressure from my southie friends to hit the Sunset Valley market.

But first, we’ll be headed to the Triangle Farmers market this Wednesday (3/12) for their spring celebration. Starting this Wednesday, they expand the market hours to 4-8 each Wednesday. Come join us!

Downtown Farmers Market Tour

These are my friends Eddie and Roxanne. Eddie is an artist and craftsman who makes garden posts with phrases painted on them in Japanese and Chinese. Roxanne is my regular market running buddy and a generally fabulous woman. Roxanne is also the aforementioned hummus addict.

Eddie just started making these great wood utensils. He is so creative! He has come up with some great utensils that not many people would think of. One of the spoons is a jar scraper with a ledge on it to scrape the underside of the condiment jar. How smart is he?!

This is Brian from Texas French Bread (affectionately known as Brian the Bread guy to my friends). This booth is the reason I will never be able to give up carbs. After Brian introduced me to Rosemary ciabatta bread, it was all over. Brian refuses to smile this morning because the former Waterloo Brew Prub is being unceremoniously ripped to the ground.

Blackland Prairie Farms has some of the best greens at the market and they had great onions this week too. (Also has the cutest market baby :>).

There is now a seafood vendor at the market who brings up fresh seafood from the coast each week. Roxanne and I both got shrimp this week and they said they might have amberjack and grouper in time for the Wednesday market. They usually have snapper each week as well.

Ottmer Family Farm from Stonewall has great produce, particularly okra in the summer, and they have “Happy Chicken eggs.” Could you really buy eggs from anywhere else after that billing? The eggs are amazing – clearly from happy chickens.

Bikkurin Farms always has a good selection and, like so many farms, the whole family gets in to the act. They had really pretty beets this morning. Yes, I bought beets again, but not for me this time. I’m making the beet risotto recipe for some vegetarian friends who just had a baby.

The women at Acadian Farms are lovely – always smiling and happy to be there. They had beautiful produce this morning and I got some great cilantro for Ginger’s big dinner tomorrow night. You can also see the goat vendor in the background. I noticed this morning that they sell German sausage made out of goat. Might have to try that soon…

Last but not least is our favorite hummus dealer, I mean vendor, the Mediterranean Chef. They also have great pita bread, baba ganoush, spinach pies, dolmas, etc. If you need to get your Greek on, this is the place to do it.

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