Market Scene: Atlanta State Farmers' Market (with Recipes!)
Note: It's time for another weekly Market Scene dispatch. Each Monday, one of our various correspondents checks in with what's fresh at farmstands, what's coming up, and what you better get while the gettin's good. This week, we hear from Louise Brescia, who you may know better around these parts as chiff0nade. (Welcome to the other side, Chiffy!) Unfortunately it ain't peach season yet in Georgia, but she did find some good tomatillos, basil, baby mangoes, and Vidalia onions, and even shares her own original recipes for what to do with them! —The Mgmt.
The Atlanta State Farmer's Market is a GIANT open-air space offering fresh vegetables, fruit, and plant life. With visions of peaches in my head, I set out for the market—only to find out I was too early for peaches.
I was lucky to have actually found this farmers' market in the first place because Atlantans have their own definition of "farmer's market." They are generally indoor, extremely large, ethnically diverse mega-supermarkets. When I'm hunting for Thai red curry paste or dried New Mexico chiles, this is fine. Today I'm looking for produce, preferably local and in season.
Though disappointed by the lack of peaches, I reassured myself that they'd show up later in the season, and strove on. I stopped at a stand that had the most beautiful, tiny mangoes I've ever seen. Not likely local but too adorable to ignore, I snagged a box.
Most of the stands offered spices and ingredients, not necessarily from the area, but I took full advantage. I grabbed a small bag of habaneros and some gorgeous tomatillos from Sanchez Produce. Spying such strange items as "Billy Myer's Yellow Root Tea," I enjoyed learning about what grows in Georgia as I cruised through the stalls.
The profusion of peppers was evident, as nearly every stall had them—all manner of colors, shapes and Scoville units. I began noticing that most stands offered August-quality plum tomatoes (and it's only May 9th! er, was). Cortez Produce had by far the prettiest toms and I staked my claim—the whole box for $15. I hadn't even left the market and I could already taste the tomato-based dishes that would result from these perfect tomato specimens. What better to add to perfect tomatoes? Perfect basil. I bought two plants, one green, one purple.
Of course, there were Vidalia onions galore. These sweet onions are one of the most recognizable produce items of Georgia. I added a bag of Vidalias to my ever-growing stockpile of fresh fruit and veg.
Waiting at home for me was a giant bowl of whole wheat pizza dough I mixed a day earlier. I couldn't wait to create all manner of flatbreads and I was especially excited about the prospect of an onion loaf using the Vidalias. The baby mangoes, on the other hand, presented a challenge but their adorable-quotient secured their place in my trunk. It would be an interesting dinner.
I thoroughly enjoyed my foray into the farmers' market and can hardly wait until next time when there promises to be a lot more in the way of fruit available and in season.
In Season Right Now (in Georgia)