To Market, To Market
I went to Atherton Mills Market on Saturday, for the first time. What the heck had I been waiting for? I’m definitely going back. Perhaps for a once-a-month visit… to stock up on more honey, at the very least. But more on that in a minute.
Atherton Mills is a clean, urban, modern take on a “Farmers Market”. It is unlike every other Farmers Market that I have ever been to. This turned out to be a very good thing, and a little disappointing as well…
There were some truly amazing products there, that I have not found at other market locations around town.
The honey (the honey!!!!). Cloister Honey produces the BEST. HONEY. I. HAVE. EVER. TASTED. Hands down. And? It’s well and truly local. They have hives on top of some buildings in uptown Charlotte – as well as in Wilkesboro, NC for their amazing Sourwood honey. Who knew something with ‘sour”’ in the name, could be so sweet and smooth? I have been purchasing local honey for a couple of years now, but nothing comes close to being as good as Cloister Honey. I spent a while chatting to Randall about his products and sampling just about everything on offer. I ended up with my favorite honey, the Sourwood, and their Whipped (think creamed) Cinnamon Honey. Spreadable, and delectable. Oh my.
In the five days since I have purchased this, I’ve already put the honey on yogurt, cornbread and homemade English muffins. I’m going to treat this honey like a good balsamic vinegar… I won’t cook with it, but rather use it raw to savor it.
Some other great finds at Atherton were…
25 Star (18 year old) Balsamic Vinegar from Ohhlio Express. I have been on the hunt for the perfect balsamic since I left my favorite vinegar company back in England. I might have just found it. This is a local company, with a decidedly non-local product (obviously).
I also sampled some locally roasted nuts, pickles, locally made Greek-style yogurt, and cheeses. I ended up with a really nice Asiago cheese from Chapel Hill Creamery, along with some local Sweet Potato & Cracked Black Pepper Gluten-free crackers, made right here in Charlotte. I also bought some grass-fed beef/pastured pork hot dogs from Proffitt Farms, mostly for Tristan. He likes meat, and well, if we’re going to eat it – it’s going to be local, pastured, grass-fed and humane. So, $12 hotdogs it is!
There was far less fresh produce at this market than other markets, which wasn’t a problem for me, as I had already visited my local market and purchased eggs, chicken and beef, arugula, mini carrots, and 2 varieties of lettuce. However, if you were looking for straight up garden variety (pun intended) produce, you might be a bit disappointed at Atherton. But what they lacked in produce, they made up for in other offerings, in my opinion.
The other little disappointment for me there was the wine vendor. Vin Master has a booth there, (as well as a store across the parking lot), and was sampling wines. We started to chat to the owner, and while sampling he informed us, somewhat begrudgingly, that the wine was from California. Boo. Nothing special there. Now, our NC wines can leave a little to be desired (except the Biltmore wines – which are excellent, and I’m not just saying that because I knew the winemaster!), they are usually overly sweet and remind me of Manischewitz. However, in the absence of say a NC wine, it would have been nice to have seen some Virginia wines, or something like that. I don’t shop at Farmers Markets expecting to find products from California, with zero local connection, and found that disappointing.
We also sampled some ‘Melon Ice’, which was delicious and refreshing on a warm spring day. Sitting outside on the benches, and watching our LYNX light-rail train go by… this was definitely a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Home again, home again, market is done.