Rain, shine — or in the case of this weekend, both — our farmers markets are full of great things to eat. I managed to hit three of Central Arkansas’ best markets over the weekend, and I found something good to eat at all of them. Here’s some highlights:
*The best bread in the state: Now something like “best bread” might be a bold statement, but after running into Jonathan Wilkins working the Arkansas Fresh booth at the Argenta Market, I had to take a loaf home, and after trying it, I’m ready to declare it the best. The next time somebody tells you something is “the best thing since sliced bread,” let them know that you’re aware of a sliced bread that hasn’t yet been beat — and it’s from bakery mastermind Ashton Woodward at Arkansas Fresh.
*Root down: And what to do with that bread? Well, make a sandwich, obviously, but what sort? Lucky for me, Crimmins Family Farm had some lovely radishes available, which settled the matter: fresh bread, thin-sliced radishes, just a hint of butter, and a sprinkle of sea salt. The radishes were sweet and slightly peppery, making for a wonderful early summer treat.
*Use everything: After buying some lovely carrots from the Little Rock Victory Garden, I noticed that in addition to the lovely orange roots, there were some really massive, delicious-looking tops. I decided to use the tops and some local pecans to make a pesto that turned out quite nice, and I think that carrot tops can make for a fine substitute for parsley in any dish — so save those tops!
*Secret’s in the salsa: One of the most interesting things I came across this weekend was Pratt Family Salsa. The Pratt’s started out making prepared salsa, but then had an inspired idea: let the customer customize their own recipes. The result was a line of salsa spice mixes in mild, medium, or hot that can be used to stir up a batch of fresh salsa using whatever vegetables you wish. The fact that these mixes are dry also lends them to things apart from salsa like sour cream dips, guacamole, and even dry rub for barbecue (the Pratt’s have a list of recipes on their site). I’ve been using a bag of the hot variety, and I’ve got to say it’s a wonderfully made product.
*Pie in the sky: Another surprising thing i found this weekend was Yo Mama’s Fried Pies. Unlike many of my Southern foodie bretheren, I’m not normally the biggest fan of the fried pie, but I had two of Yo Mama’s this weekend and they were spectacular — and at 2 for $5, they’re not that much more expensive than those cardboard-tasting Hostess pies you get at the gas station. Definitely worth a stop.
Of course, this list is just a small taste of what is happening at our local markets, and with tomato season right around the corner, things are about to get awesome. Whether you’re grabbing breakfast and a cold-brew coffee from Mylo Coffee Co., or picking up a quart of zephyr squash from Laughing Stock Farm, there’s something at our farmers markets for all of you. It’s been a good spring for fresh produce thus far, so take advantage of all our delicious ways to eat local and support the local economy.