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Pearl Farmers Market & A Bitchin’ Camaro

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30510_1Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to be invited by Chevy to join a small group of bloggers for a road trip to the Pearl Farmers Market in San Antonio.  As I rarely turn down a trip to a farmers market, I accepted, although a bit skeptical as I have always been a little biased against American-made cars.

Call it left-over stereotyping from the 80’s, but in my mind American cars are rattly messes that don’t get good gas mileage.  Well, needless to say, after driving four different vehicles that day, I will admit that I was wrong. (You might want to bookmark this page as you won’t see this type of admission often.)  Chevy’s little road trip worked it’s magic because I fell in love with a car – the Camaro.

30510_2Big fun!  Very big fun!  Of course, it’s completely impractical, I will never own one and I was forever grateful that I was driving the Malibu (which is surprisingly comfortable and posh) and not the Camaro when we got stuck in traffic on the way home.  But man – was it a fun way to arrive at the Pearl Farmers Market.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how much the Pearl Farmers Market has grown since my visit in September.  You can really fill a market bag now with everything from fresh produce to proteins to olive oil to cheeses.

30510_3Since Farmhouse Delivery just dropped off  my CSA share of veggies, I focused on the non-produce booths.  I bought chevre from CKC Farms, a goat cheese vendor who has amazing products and is now coming to Austin for the Thursday Westlake market and the Downtown Austin Farmers Market.

L & M Beef tempted me with soup bones at the bargain basement price of $2/lb – could not pass that up.  I bought a ham steak from Menzies Farm, who suggested that I pan fry it with salt and pepper, a great way to bring out the flavor of the lamb.

30510_4I was a little stunned when I saw a booth with farm-raised tilapia.  R. Scott Enterprises, Inc operates an aquaponics farm where they grow lettuces hydroponically and raise healthy tilapia without antibiotics, something rarely accomplished for farm-raised fish.  For the second time that day, I was skeptical, so I did the only thing I could do, I bought some.

The HGD Foods booth a few stalls down was selling Gourmet Gluten Free Fish Fry mix so I finished my purchases with all the supplies for a great fish fry.  I made the fish this week and it was fantastic – flaky, light and tasted great.  I never would have guessed that it was farm-raised.

Chevy bought us lunch at the Texas Farm to Table Cafe before we headed back to Austin. The cafe serves sandwiches, salads and breakfast items that are sourced from Texas farms whenever possible. The Deep Ellum Blue salad very tasty and a the cafe was a pleasant place to refuel before we headed home.
The road trip to San Antonio was fun and I was reminded twice that day about being open-minded.  Life’s a lot more fun when you try new things!

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Exploring the Pearl: Pearl Farmers Market in San Antonio

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092609_1My friends from out of town have started to use farmers markets as a bargaining chip for me to come see them. The conversation usually goes something like this, “If you come see us, we can go to the market on Saturday.”

This, of course, is a very effective strategy – my friends are smart – and recently resulted in a weekend visit to my friends Kate & Trey in San Antonio. Of course, them being great friends and having two precious boys who are big fun to hang out with didn’t hurt either.
092609_2I had been following the progress of the Pearl Farmers Market since it opened earlier this year and heard great things. The wise folks in San Antonio have re-purposed the old Pearl Brewery as a retail & office space with plenty of room for special events. With the Texas Farm to Table Cafe, a sustainably focused restaurant, already making their home around the corner, I guess it seemed logical to put a farmers market here.
092609_3The market is still growing, but definitely had enough vendors to fill your vegetable crisper and your meat drawer (lamb, goat, beef & bison.) I was delighted to see some familiar vendors like Thunder Heart Bison and loved the vibe of the market. There is a definite buzz to the place.

092609_4One of the true treasures at this market is the Chef’s Table by MesAlegre (means very happy) and Chef Johnny Hernandez. For $20/adult you get to enjoy what looked and smelled like a truly delicious meal from the local farm products. Yum. Unfortunately, with a 4 year old and a 1.5 year old in tow, we did not get to partake this time, but I am definitely coming back. It is recommended that you buy your tickets online as the table frequently sells out.

When we were visiting, there were smokers and grills set up on the corners of the market for the barbecue cook-off to be held the next day. Their presence reinforced how much of a community space the Pearl has become. The Pearl is just that – a jewel in the center of San Antonio that is definitely worth a visit.
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