Saturday mornings going to the Athens Farmer's Market its a must. While the market is open all year round, of course it really starts getting lively by mid April.
The market opens at 9:00 am.... and even on a cold, dreary day like yesterday, folks are ready to shop. This is early... it was quite crowded when we left around 10:30.
This market is one of the oldest... and rated as one of the best... in the whole USA. The regulations are strict and adhered to religiously. Vendors must grow or produce whatever they sell. Everything is local. No crafts or flea-market type items. Look how many vendors are already set up and selling in April. By June there will be twice (or more) this number of sellers. Everything from beef to lamb or pork, to eggs, cheese, bakery items, and bedding plants was sold yesterday. Later all kinds of fresh produce and fruits will be available.
There are always a few street entertainers around.... playing music for tips. I don't know how they determine who gets to perform, but sometimes, when the market is going full blast, there will be 3 or 4 different people, located in various spots around in the market.
When we went to the market yesterday I already had in mind what I wanted to buy...
In the back row is a jug of "Sticky Pete's" pure maple syrup. We'll be heading for Maine soon, and while I don't care much for pancakes, I can't resist buying some "Ployes" mix (buckwheat pancakes) and having them with that syrup. A couple of things not in the above photo that I bought... a couple packages of bratwurst, and a package of breakfast sausage. That sausage will be delicious with those ployes!
Those 5 jars of salsa at the top right are made locally. I don't know Tom's last name, but he's been making "Southwestern Style" salsas for several years.... and we always load up when we're here. Personally, the Cilantro Hot is my favorite... I think Bill favors the Ghost Pepper.
Right in the middle of that top row is something we've not bought before. Ramps Pesto...
Most of us are familiar with pesto made from basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese and olive oil. Well, ramps are even more garlicky than garlic... and this concoction of ramps, feta cheese, black walnuts and olive oil has one heck of kick!
Unless you're from the eastern part of the USA... and maybe even from the Appalachians... you might not know about ramps.
Well... this is from the Wikapedia site...
The ramp is a bulb-forming perennial with broad, smooth, light green leaves, often with deep purple or burgundy tints on the lower stems, and a scallion-like stalk and bulb. Both the white lower leaf stalks and the broad green leaves are edible. The flower stalk appears after the leaves have died back, unlike the similar Allium ursinum, in which leaves and flowers can be seen at the same time. Ramps grow in close groups strongly rooted just beneath the surface of the soil.
Allium tricoccum is popular in the cuisines of the rural uplands of its native region. It is regarded as an early spring vegetable with a strong garlic-like odor and a pronounced onion flavor. Ramps also have a growing popularity in restaurants throughout North America.
The plant's flavor, a combination of onions and strong garlic, or "fried green onions with a dash of funky feet" in the words of food writer Jane Snow, is adaptable to numerous cooking styles. In central Appalachia, ramps are most commonly fried with potatoes in bacon fat or scrambled with eggs and served with bacon, pinto beans and cornbread. Ramps can also be pickled or used in soups and other foods in place of onions and garlic.
And since it's early spring here, there are various ramp items available...
Back to that photo above....
Those 2 loaves of bread are from a local bread/pizza business. On the left is rolled out bread dough stuffed with ramps greens, feta cheese and slices of bacon then the ends twisted up and baked. On the right is a loaf of bread that has ramps, artichokes and maybe a couple of things I can't remember.
I will say that for lunch yesterday Bill and I split that loaf of bread on the left, slathered it with the ramp pesto and thought we were in heaven!
We probably stunk to high heaven from the garlicky aroma... but I swear, I just don't know what Jane Snow is talking about when she describes ramps as smelling like "funky feet".
We'll be here a couple more weeks or so...
Wonder what else I can find at the market that is so deliciously different?
That's All For Today!