Monday, January 21, 2008

Weekend run around town

This weekend I took advantage of the research and recs from fellow bloggers to run around town and stock my pantry. Here's what I found:

- The Upper Eastside Greenmarket is growing. Even though farmers remain non-existent, it's turned into a meeting place for locals living off Biscayne. The cookie guy sold out fairly early and, according to Danny at Daily Cocaine, local UES chefs made appearences to either cook or buy. I'm still holding out hope that farmers will show up, but it seems unlikely according to a few posts on Chowhound which the Chow police deleted.

- This year's first Coral Gables Farmers Market happened on Saturday (great review and pics from mango & lime). Some of last year's participants were there (the guy who buys wholesale and packages everything to look "farmer-like", the bakeries, the honey guy, the citrus family, etc.). What was exciting were the new vendors: Le Boudoir (which forgot to bring their tent, resulting in very unhappy workers and melting macaroons), a tea and spice vendor and, the biggest surprise of all, Paradise Farms, the Homestead farm that supplies many of Miami's top restaurants with fresh produce, was doing a trial run at the Gables market. The produce was pristeen but ridiculously expensive. Greens were sold by the ounce! There were a lot of takers which will hopefully mean they'll return but one employee I heard said they had to actually convince Paradise's owner, Gabriele Marewski, to allow them to come to the market. Now for someone who extolls organic produce and allows people to pay $150 a pop to come to her farm to have dinner prepared by some of Miami's best chefs you figure she'd want to get her product to as much of the public as possible. Hopefully this experiment will go well and Paradise Farms will continue to sell to the public.

- The Homestead Farmers Market brought to our attention by Critical Miami is just as described. It's a barnlike building with fruits and vegetables next to a flea market selling 5 pairs of white socks for $5. The vast majority of the vendors and customers were Mexican or Central American. There were, however, the occassional bikers on their way to the keys, and me. The produce is insanely cheap and there were tons of things not found at your local Publix (or most markets around you for that matter) including: fresh garbanzo beans in their pods, fresh squash blossoms, epazote, dried chiles and bitter melon. More common produce looked better than what I get at my BiBo Publix and much cheaper (onions and beets $0.60 a lb!). It's worth a trip when your crisper is bare.

-My last stop was the fruit stand at Knaus Berry Farm. The cinnamon rolls seem to have grown from last year, and so have the lines. Still, it's a great excuse to drive to the country.

Thanks all for the finds. Next time I'll have a camera in tow.

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