Summer in North Carolina means lots and lots of tomatoes. And the Carrboro Farmer's Market has no shortage. Because there are so many stands that have tomatoes, each with a different assortment of sizes and types, your best bet is to roam around and sample as many as you possibly can. If you end up taking some home, I recommend a tomato sandwich (tomatoes, mayo, bread, pepper) on the Farmhouse Sourdough from Chicken Bridge Bakery.
Farmhouse Sourdough - Chicken Bridge Bakery
The Farmhouse Sourdough is packed with flavor. Chicken Bridge uses wood-fired ovens to bake all of their breads and the resulting bread is crisp and crusty outside, tender on the inside. They also use a slow fermentation process that really accents the tangy sourdough and whole wheat flavors. You can grab a sample as you walk by, but a small loaf is only $5.
The Chapel Hill Creamery is always sampling a few of their spectacular cheeses. All of them are good, but there are a few that you really can't miss. If you're into really creamy brie, look for the Carolina Moon [$10]. Or if you like a hard, asiago inspired creation, check out the Calvander [$7]. But, for me, the show stopper is a true southern delicacy, pimento cheese [$6]. Made with the Calvander, it's rich and tangy and makes a fantastic sandwich with the tomatoes and Farmhouse Sourdough from Chicken Bridge.
Celebrity Dairy is known for its goat cheese. And rightly so. But I was taken in by their scotch egg [$2.50]. A scotch egg, for those, like me, who had never heard of one, is a hard boiled egg, wrapped in local sage sausage and spelt bread crumbs, then baked, and served cold. It's a simple dish that is packed with flavor. Plus it's compact size leaves one hand free to hold the second one you will inevitably buy.
I tend to be wary of gluten free baked goods. But after this Oatmeal Raisin Cookie [$3] I will be much less reluctant to give them a whirl. It's a mix of raisins and dried cranberries in a chewy and wonderfully sweet cookie. The cookie, I was told when I purchased it, does not, in fact, have oats in it - apparently oats are very difficult to get gluten free. Never the less, it has the proper oatmeal-cookie-cheweyness and is spot on, despite being gluten free.
Louise's stand is full of cakes that she makes by hand, and sold whole, half, or by the slice. She makes several different flavors, but I'm a sucker for a slice of plain pound cake [$2]. The slice is tender and has a great crumb and the crust is slightly crunchy. It's not overly sweet and the butteriness and vanilla stand out. Simplicity is really the strength of this cake. It is what a slice of pound cake should be.
Chocolate Babka - Sari Sari Sweets
The Sari Sari Sweets cart is packed with fresh baked goods. Fitting, since Sari Sari means "variety" in Tagalog. A friend told me I couldn't miss the chocolate babka [$3]. Unlike a traditional babka, which is more of a loaf, this is an individual cake, something akin to a cinnamon roll, but stuffed with chocolate. The bread is flaky and full of melty dark chocolate.
Pecan Pie - Sweetwater Pecan Farm
Sweet water Pecan Farm's blue tent, unlike a lot of the other stands, is always in the same place at the corner of the market. The owner, Alfred, sells pecans, pralines, and various other fruits and veggies. But this pie, well, this pie is what pecan pie is meant to be. It's rich and super sweet, covered in crispy pecans. And it's huge. A "slice" of pie is actually an entire quarter [$3]. You'll need a fork and place to lay down to finish this off.
Fresh Hot Dog - The Pig
I did not expect to be eating a hot dog at 10am at a farmers market. But the Pig sells fresh made hotdogs from local, pasture raised, anti-biotic and hormone free pigs [$4]. And since it sort of embodies the whole ethic of the Carrboro Farmer's Market, I made the sacrifice. It was the best thing I ate all day. The dog itself was full of pork flavor and was spiced only enough to accent the meat. You have a choice of the standard hot dog toppings - I went with mustard and slaw. You can also add chili or pimento cheese for another buck. I opted to upgrade and got mine served on a fresh roll from the Chicken Bridge Bakery, which is also an extra buck.
As far as I could tell, there is very little the Farmer's Daughter doesn't preserve. They sell everything from jams to pickles to heirloom tomato bloody mary mix. And if the Napa Kimchi [$7] we sampled is any indication, it's all probably pretty wonderful. The kimchi was tangy and spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. There is a little sugar in the recipe that tames the spiciness. The level of fish sauce was good and didn't overpower the other flavors. After a day of munching sweets, this was a nice contrast.