I love Farmer's Markets. Maybe it's because I grew up on a farm and you can't ever take the country out of the girl. Whatever the reason, I love wandering along those rows of produce, looking at the colors, the vibrant hues of nature's bounty, savoring the smells, sampling the freshness.
The big red tomatoes are my favorites. I'm really partial to heirloom tomatoes. Those lovely purplish ones are indescribable. Big juicy strawberries always pull me in — red and sweet, I can imagine my grandma's strawberry pie just by catching a whiff of them. Oh, and the peaches. When you find a good peach, the very smell has your mouth salivating.
But there is more than produce at the best Farmer's Markets. You'll find fresh baked breads, jellies and jams, honey, cakes and pies, flowers…
One of the best Farmer's Markets I've visited is the Pepper Place Saturday Market in Birmingham, Alabama. This great market, located at 2829 2nd Avenue South, is open from 7 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. It features farmers, bakers, beekeepers, cooking demos, flowers, and performances by local musicians. I was even able to get a package of the grits I'd had that morning for breakfast — Stone Ground Organic White Grits from McEwen & Sons in nearby Wilsonville.
The Pepper Place Saturday Market is open March 15 through October 9, then the market transforms into the Harvest and Holiday Market from October 16 through December 4.
When I visited the Pepper Place Saturday Market, I also took a few minutes to wander into The Red Cat Coffee House (formerly O'Kafes). This great little coffee shop is TransFairUSA Certified, serving up organically grown, 100% Free Trade coffees. I had a great Café Mocha, with whipped cream of course. The shop is at 2901 2nd Avenue South, in the renovated Martin Biscuit Building.
Farmer's Markets have popped up all across the country. Check one out in your neighborhood. Take in the sights of the beautiful aisles of colorful produce, sample some great food, and head home to create dishes with fabulously fresh food.
There's really little more filled with wonder than a juicy, plump heirloom tomato.