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Posts from the ‘Farmers Markets’ Category

Thankful for Thanksgiving

So, Thanksgiving was a week and a half ago you say? Balderdash. I’ve never been one for the timely recap, so why start now?

I am still basking in the glow of my first Thanksgiving as hostess. Last year, I hosted our family X-mas dinner, and this year, Thanksgiving. Here is how it all went down…

Tuesday: I worked for 2/3 of the day, and then went to pick up my fresh local turkey (thanks Carl!). The weather was insane… 76*, and picking up my turkey for Thanksgiving? what the what?

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This guy weighed 14.48 lbs., and cost an arm and a leg. Seriously, I never thought I would hand over that much cash for poultry. However, I’d do it again in a heartbeat (or rather, next year, come Thanksgiving). When the only meat I eat is local/humane, I knew it was time to step up and buy a local turkey – or pass on it, altogether.  I can’t recommend it enough. I say, know where your meat comes from. Or don’t eat it.

Wednesday:  I was fortunate to have the day off, and spent my time cleaning and doing a bit of cooking for Thursday. I made Ree’s make-ahead mashed potatoes, which I was thrilled to get out of the way. I also made veggie dip and hummus, and cranberry orange salad dressing.

mashed taters

Thursday:  The big day! I baked my apple pie bright and early, and then dealt with the turkey. It seems I didn’t get many pictures throughout the day, as I was busy being the cook/hostess. Oh, well. Maybe next year? Here is what I managed to capture (or holler at Tristan to take a pic of… flash pictures, I’m looking at YOU. *ahem*).

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The majority of my meal, was local. Aside from the crackers, it was all homemade (and if I’d had more time, I would have made the crackers, too!). Most of my ingredients were purchased at my local Farmers Market… the veggies for the crudité plate, the cranberry pistachio goat cheese ball (Bosky Acres), the turkey, the potatoes (in both the sweet and mashed forms) the apples in the pie and salad, the herbs, etc. You get the picture.

Local.

Lovely.

After the big day, the rest of the weekend involved two days of well-deserved holiday relaxation, and one day of working on the new house…

Friday: Couch – meet Angie. Lovely. No Black Friday shopping for me. Crowds of grouchy, sleep-deprived, insane cheapskates don’t appeal.

Many episodes of Supernatural were viewed, with Tristan and Lilly by my side. (The show may be a little cheesy – but damn, those Winchester brothers are easy on the eyes, no? It’s one of my current guilty pleasures).

Supernatural

Saturday:  Another lovely lazy day. I had planned on getting several things accomplished, but staying in my PJs was just too damn tempting. (I NEVER get to have a lazy weekend – ever – so I decided to make it count).  I think we watched some more Supernatural, and I know I took a nap. It was all very exciting. (You might think I’m kidding, but sadly, no).

That night we had tickets to see Daniel Tosh at Ovens Auditorium here in Charlotte.  The opening act was Tommy Johnagin , who was absolutely hilarious. I might have enjoyed his set a smidge better than Tosh, even? I like Tosh well enough, but as I told Tristan… I only find approximately 85% of what he says, funny. If you aren’t familiar with him, his humor is VERY politically incorrect, and more than a little masochistic and homophobic. Wait, that doesn’t make him sound very funny, does it? He is, I promise. Much more of a “guy’s comic”… but still amusing, definitely.

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Sunday:  I spent most of the day Sunday on my feet, cruising around Lowes, picking out a new refrigerator, and dishwasher (thank YOU holiday sales), and finalizing paint colors for the new house*. I then put in a few hours at the new house*… generally up on a ladder, or down on my knees; prepping the walls to be painted. Muscles I didn’t know I even had, hurt this past week. Yeeouch.

* Yes, new house. Have I mentioned that yet? We’re moving in January. I think.

~

Weekends

Weekends always go by far too quickly. My life is busy, busy… and I look forward to my weekends, like a kid looking forward to Xmas.

Though I usually have so much that I want to accomplish, that they end up being just as busy as my weekdays… and… well… it’s just a vicious circle really.

However, this past weekend, I was able to take a well-deserved lazy day on Saturday. I had gotten off of work a few hours early on Friday, and was able to do my weekly grocery shopping, as well as a much-needed trip to Costco that afternoon. Then I came home and turned my kitchen into pumpkin-flavored heaven, as promised.

Pumpkin muffins (so moist and doughy!), pumpkin butter and pumpkin cream cheese. All made with real food ingredients, and respectably healthy.

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Put all three together, and you have a winning combination, as we happily discovered…

super deluxe muffins

Saturday morning was my usual ritual of Farmers’ Market and coffee…

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I was thrilled to find GREENS at the market again… and (possibly?) went a little crazy, buying Collards (two types), and arugula! As well as 3 green peppers, breakfast radishes, and something called ‘Asparagus Beans’… (they look like Chinese Long Beans to me). I also bought some fingerling potatoes, eggs and some chicken breasts… as well as these super-cute itty-bitty tomatoes …

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Awwww.

I returned home in a light drizzle, to find Susan and Victor (Tristan’s Mom and nephew) at our house, hanging out. After Susan and I caught up -we’re both quite chatty (much to Victor’s dismay – 12 year old boys get bored pretty easily around women); they headed out, and that marked the end of my productive day! The rest of the day was spent in sweats, on the couch with Tristan, watching the first season of Raising Hope on DVD, and taking a nap.  It rained, it poured, and we lounged. Fantastic. I didn’t even have to cook dinner, courtesy of Mellow Mushroom and my lovely boyfriend who went to pick it up.

We were excited for the premiere of Saturday Night Live with Alec Baldwin, and bought some Schweddy Balls in his honor. It didn’t disappoint! (The ice cream or the show!).

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(If you don’t get that reference, I’m sorry, but we can’t be friends).

When it comes to relaxing, I’m normally such a guiltaholic (Tristan says it’s my Catholic school childhood!); but on Saturday I was able to take a step back, and not give myself a hard time for relaxing. I know I deserve it (always!), but sometimes it is honestly hard to let go.

Sunday morning I had a mini lie-in, and then a breakfast of coffee, local eggs and homemade pumpkin muffins.

Then it was back to the business of my weekend to-do list… multiple loads of laundry, and of course, keeping busy in the kitchen.

I turned these… applesauce1

into applesauce. (will post the recipe tomorrow)

And I  lightened up my favorite hummus recipe, by using some vegetable broth (not exactly authentic – but rest-assured there was evoo and tahini in there – just less of it – as I tend to eat hummus by the boatload).

Sunday night I made my Minestrone soup (recipe to come), and indulged in a giant bowl of healthy comfort food. Seriously, it is so GOOD. I’ve been eating it nonstop ever since.

I also enjoyed my first Schlafly Pumpkin Ale this weekend, as well (which came to me all the way from Illinois! More on that later).

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Do you find it easy to ‘let go’ and relax on the weekends….? Or are you a control-freak, like me? 🙂

~

Pickled

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I don’t can anything. There are times I think that I would like to… but then I think… sterilizing. boiling water. tongs and slippery jars. botulism. No thanks! 

I have an admitted addiction to Ball jars, however – and If you know me at all, you know I’d rather make it myself, than buy it. But canning? Meh. Maybe 2012 will be the year I learn to can. But not now. Now, I want pickles, and I want them fast. These are fantastic “refrigerator pickles”, that only take a few minutes to whip up – and a few hours of patience to wait for. The only downside – their shelf life is only about 2 weeks. But that is okay – they tend to disappear long before that anyhow!

Luckily, this is the perfect time of year to pick up some delicious pickling cucumbers at your local Farmers’ Market. (When the season is over, I will continue making these with English/hothouse cukes).

Want pickles in 6 hours? These are for you.

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Easy-Peasy Pickles

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium sized pickling cucumbers (or English cucumber, if pickling ones aren’t available)
  • 3/4 c. white vinegar
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt
  • 1 TBSP granulated cane sugar
  • 1 TBSP whole peppercorns
  • 1 TBSP whole coriander seeds
  • 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • several sprigs of fresh dill (just eyeball it – I think I used 7?)

Directions:

Mix the salt and sugar into the vinegar and stir to dissolve. Set aside.

Wash and scrub your cucumbers well, as we are leaving the skin on!

Then, slice the cucumbers any which way you like… I like chips.

Get a clean 1 quart jar, and layer in the cucumbers… nestling the dills sprigs and garlic chunks throughout.

Add the peppercorns and coriander seeds.

Pour your vinegar mixture over the top, and add water to completely cover the cucumbers.

Screw lid on tight, give the jar a few shakes to distribute the spices and refrigerate immediately.

Your pickles will be ready in 6 hours (though I usually wait 12 hours – but it is difficult!).

Eat within two weeks.

 

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~

Veg-Out & Booze It Up

As per my ritual, Saturday morning found me at the Farmers’ Market. I went a little nuts this week (everything looked so beautiful!) and spent about $45 (I think. Maybe it would be best if I just “forgot”). I spent $27 at one of my favorite vendors… Hinson Farms. (My other favorite farm is Carlea Farms). All of the vendors at the market are fantastic, but these two definitely get top billing in my book!

I normally only go to the market with about $30 in cash (plus my checkbook for must haves and meat!). However, flush with cash… I spent, spent, spent. I was paying with quarters by the time I dragged myself away. And here is what I came home with…

 market bounty

Two dozen farm-fresh eggs, cucumbers, edamame, romaine (3 heads), Cherokee purple tomatoes, peaches, Russian fingerling potatoes, purple and green bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, Japanese eggplant, and a small honeydew melon.

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After the vet and car ordeal, I popped into the ABC store to restock some of our favorites and scope out some new finds…

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Lunch was simple sandwich of guacamole, tomato and pepper jack cheese on Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat (the heels), with a few sweet potato chips. And then… then we napped. Food coma!

saturday lunch

Lilly napped as well… she was worn out from her exciting vet visit!

mopeypants with bunny

When we arose, I got to work in the kitchen (again – and always!)

First, I macerated some fresh strawberries in Limóncello. This is a summertime favorite of ours!

limoncello berries

Then, it was cocktail time! I purchased Skinnygirl Margarita for the first time. I am a huge fan of Bethenny, and thought this was definitely worth a try! It was good… none too sweet – but of course, that’s how I like my margaritas! As I make a damn good one myself, this definitely will not be a staple in my house – but I think it is a good product, and I would love it if restaurants started carrying it!

skinnygirl marg

Dinner was a simple pesto pasta with sautéed veggies, drizzled in balsamic, on the side.

In the mix:

9 oz. whole wheat rotini

prepared pesto, to taste

15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

Prepare your pasta, drain and stir in as much pesto as your little heart desires. Throw in your drained cannellini beans, and stir to heat through.

Topped with:

garden fresh cherry tomatoes

fresh parmesan cheese curls

pesto bean pasta

For dessert? Limóncello strawberries, of course!

strawbs with limon

~

What I Ate Wednesday–Farmer’s Market Edition!

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This day started out at the Farmer’s Market, and a huge percentage of the food I consumed came from there as well, in one form or another.

Breakfast – Coffee with cream (x2 cups), and a special treat made by my friend Ursula. These were little plum tarts with an orange-flavored crust. Not very sweet… just the way I like things! We tend to take turns baking something to bring to the market to enjoy for breakfast. Usually it is something whole-grain, but these were a delicious exception!

Farmers Market coffee

A.M. Snack – was a green smoothie.

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Lunch – was a chopped salad made up of cucumbers, carrots and tomatoes (all local), along with an ounce of cubed-up white sharp cheddar cheese, and a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

wiaw snack

Dinner – was grilled bbq chicken (local), grilled baby squash and zucchini (local) with sautéed green beans (local). Also, a glass of white wine, and a glass of seltzer or two (both unpictured).

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Dessert/Snack – Some healthified Blueberry Peach Crumble (that I made in the afternoon – with local blueberries and peaches from the market. RECIPE TO COME later this week!), with a scooplette of all natural vanilla ice cream. Yum!

, blue crumble

~

Asheville–Day 2

Saturday dawned bright, clear a little cool – which was a nice change from Charlotte weather! We headed out early to the local Farmer’s Market, Asheville’s City Market, downtown. As a die-hard local foodie, the Farmer’s Market was something I didn’t want to miss!

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It was very different from my local market, and had about twice as many vendors. There was so much beautiful produce! But I wasn’t there for that since I was on vacation… I was there for the local goodies… nut butter, jams, pasta… things that would travel well back to Charlotte with me.

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And tempeh! My one perishable purchase!

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I knew I just HAD to get some Smiling Hara Tempeh to take back home with me.

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After running back to the Cottage to put the tempeh in the freezer, we popped over to Early Girl Eatery for breakfast.

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This is one of our favorite breakfast spots, and well worth the inevitable wait. This time we only waited about 20 minutes – no big deal. We window-shopped on Wall Street, snapped a few pics, and just hung out. (How did we ever survive without Smartphones? ha).

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Tristan pointed out that Mimosas were on special, and insisted I have one! No argument here!

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Starting the day with coffee and champagne = happy Angie.  It WAS vacation, after all! We had a lovely window seat overlooking Pritchard Park, and enjoyed people-watching.

early girl view

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I had the Sweet Potato Scramble with Local Sausage. Mmm, mmm. I am definitely going to re-create this at home!

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We spent the afternoon walking around downtown… shopping… snapping pics… seeing all that had changed since we were last here… and that which has stayed the same.

used bookstorelove this sign

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We stumbled upon the Three Dog Bakery and even did a bit of shopping for Lilly!

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For lunch we popped into Salsa’s Mexican and Caribbean.

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Tristan wanted to try this place, as we had never been. There wasn’t much that appealed to me on the menu, for a “light lunch”. Everything seemed to be either huge or fried. Not my cup of tea. This was probably the only disappointing meal for me, of the entire trip. I ended up ordered an appetizer called the Spliff Roll (heh, heh – very fitting for Asheville!) and it was super-fried.

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I only ended up eating half of this small appetizer plate, (but ALL of the fresh mango salsa hiding underneath – yum), and it still managed to give me a tummy-ache later. I just don’t do well with fried stuff.

After lunch we walked and talked and walked some more. Everyone seemed to be out enjoying Pack Square Park, either cooling off in the fountain, or hiding out underneath the trees in the shade. This park was fantastic, and had been in the works before I moved away, but was far complete. The finished product is lovely.

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We saw my old office building at 1 N. Pack Square, which looks at first glance to be an unsightly concrete mess, but was actually designed by I.M. Pei.  I really enjoyed working right in the thick of things downtown, and miss working for The Biltmore Company.

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After a visit to Malaprops for some local Asheville LOVE,

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we hit up The Chocolate Fetish for some truffles (to enjoy a few days later, back home in Charlotte).

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Before we knew it, we were heading out for our dinner reservation!

before stoneyknob

Dinner was at Stoney Knob Café in Weaverville, NC. (Just up the road about 10 minutes, still basically Asheville). Stoney Knob is our absolute favorite date restaurant in the area. It was where our first real ‘date night’ took place (as our first date had been a lunch date on a Saturday afternoon), and we ALWAYS pay them a visit when we get to the area. We had reservations for 8pm, at this cute little revamped Diner that serves “Cuisine from Near and Far” (mostly Greek with some Italian/Asian/Caribbean thrown in the mix for fun).

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I was dismayed to find that they had taken my favorite dry Rosé wine off the menu (sad face), and opted for a Sauvignon Blanc instead. It was delicious, and I had  a second glass with dinner.

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Our appetizer was a special for the night… flatbread pizza with herbed goat cheese, arugula, caramelized onions and mushrooms.

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For our mains I went with the Carolina Shrimp and Grits (featuring NC shrimp). This had a fried green tomato on top, with some more of that herby goat cheese, and was divine.  Tristan had the Filet Minion.

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For dessert we split the special, a chocolate tart and of course, Greek coffee. (Which we both LOVE).

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It’s so funny, every time we order Greek coffee at Stoney Knob, the servers asks us “Have you had it before?” or “Are you familiar with Greek coffee?”. And we chuckle. Yes, we are VERY familiar with Greek coffee. I’d imagine that they have gotten some rather shocked reactions from patrons in the past, who didn’t know that they were ordering a strong, short, sweet little demitasse cup ‘o joe’. If you haven’t had Greek (or Turkish) coffee yet – what are you waiting for?!?!

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Stoney Knob always gives us a lovely date night experience, and this was no exception. Love.

It was a PERFECT Asheville day.

Love.

~

The End of the World

Last Saturday morning brought another trip to the Farmer’s Market (of course!)…  where I scored Jericho romaine (x2), kale, broccoli, snow peas, breakfast radishes, eggs, baby red potatoes, yellow squash, strawberries (this was the last week for them!), and the first PEACHES of the season! I also bought a loaf of gluten-free sorghum bread (as a gift) and a loaf of the amazing Cranberry Walnut bread from By Lucille.

Saturday midday brought a birthday picnic for Tristan’s Mom, Susan, at a local park. Yummy food was enjoyed… I contributed a spicy Tex-Mex brown rice/black bean salad and some Roasted Red Pepper & Basil hummus.  We also enjoyed some yummy gluten-free cupcakes, courtesy of the birthday gal. Susan suffers from Celiac disease, and as such we enjoy a lot of gluten-free food at family gatherings.

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After the picnic we took a family walk on the Greenway, and encountered a dead snake, live lizard, and a turtle!

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6 p.m. came and went – and the world didn’t end. (Shocker). So we grilled out Portobello mushrooms for “burgers”, and served them on Great Harvest buns with Swiss cheese; along with sweet potato fries and fresh local steamed broccoli.

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For dessert we dug into Joya’s Wren Cake with Irish Cream Glaze. Mmm. Delicious. (I won this cake in Tina’s Bake Sale, for Team for Kids). She also sent along a little jar of jam that her Dad made. Thanks, Joya!

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We celebrated the world NOT ending on Saturday night, with a viewing of Religulous (Loved it!).

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We are big Bill Maher fans, and watch Real Time every week. It was awesomely appropriate material.

~

Spring Has Sprung

salad

Spring Has Sprung Salad

Romaine (local)

Baby spinach

Baby cucumber

Carrots (local)

Celery

Garbanzo beans

Breakfast radish (local)

Spring onions (local)

Drizzled with amazing Ohh-lio balsamic vinegar and a nice peppery olive oil.

I’ve eaten this salad for lunch for the past three days. Delicious!

Welcome, spring!

~

My week in pictures

Easter egg hunts…

egg hunt

… and baking Emily’s Jelly Surprise Muffins

baking with j

The Farmers Market…

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… and local STRAWBERRIES!

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Reading Tina Fey’s new book, Bossypants

bossypants book

Easter Brunch…

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Playground weather…

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A handsome man to pump my gas…  (NOT loving the cost though – eeeks!)

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Two days off work, with a day of shopping and lunch out thrown in…

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PLANTS!!!

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seedlings

Getting dirt delivered for my gardens…

truck of dirt gardens

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And… this guy…

t and a easter smooch

~

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…

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Atherton Mills Farmers Market

The good…

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.

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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!

cheese and crackers

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.

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