market magic.

It’s on, my friends!  The opening day of the Grant Park Farmers Market was everything I expected it to be and more.

We could not have asked for a more beautiful day to kick it all off.

As we walked up to the spot, folks were chillin’ all over the place.  Blankets laid out, babies soaking up the sunshine, and I could just feel the familiar vibe of relaxed openness combined with a buzzing sense of appreciation.  Although it didn’t seem crowded, people certainly came out in droves- and early.  By the time we got there, many vendors were running low on supplies.  A good sign for vendors- and a lesson to Adam and I!

The first table we saw was Jackson Lowe Vegetable Farm.  Our peeps!

Mecca and Silas were holding down the fort and showing off an awesome spread of Spring veggies.

Two kinds of fresh, beautiful kale,

mountains of vibrant radishes and spinach, which made the most colorful salad.

They also had giant heads of bok choy,

and good old-fashioned collard greens.

Jackson Lowe’s CSA begins this coming Wednesday, and that means that Adam and I got to take home some of the veggies so we could do our homework!!  I am committed to providing fun, healthful, simple recipes that will highlight Jackson Lowe’s naturally grown seasonal fruits and vegetables each week for their membership to enjoy.   I’ll be sharing a few of the delicious dishes we created this week utilizing the first goods of the season,

like these Asian Turkey Meatballs with Peanut Sauce and Stir Fried Veggies and Brown Rice.  Everything tasted so incredibly fresh and wonderful!  The bok choy is amazing.  Those Lowes are not playing around.  And lucky for us, we need to pick up our CSA bag at the GPFM, so we get to bask in the wonder of it each and every Sunday.

At the market, I was tickled to be reunited with farmer and artisan friends that I met last season, like Sarah from The Little Tart Bakeshop.

Their sweet

and savory works of edible art

look more scrumptious than ever.  Flaky pastry goodness.  Yes!!!!!!!!

Moving on down to Oakleaf Mennonite Farm’s table, I was greeted with a hug and a smile.

And I could tell that they’ve been tending to their land with love.  I saw these flowering stalks

with an arugula sign…

and I was befuddled.  A first for me, I tasted the flowers (lovely and mild) and the actual pods of the plant- an explosion of full-on peppery augula flavor.  Ah, this is why I appreciate the Grant Park Market.  There are always opportunities to learn something new from knowledgeable, friendly, passionate folks.

Next, I saw Whit, formerly of the Hoopin’ Farmers.  His partner in crime is out West for now, so this season, Whit has teamed up with a different farmer to represent Prowell’s Pasture.

They had some bright, good-lookin’ greens

and a nice smattering of radishes.

We picked up a couple bags of their super flavorful salad mix.

Deeelish.  And so healthy.  I can almost feel my winter pounds flying right off.  (It can’t happen fast enough, really.)

Seriously, I have high expectations for Whit- and I think we’ll be seeing lots of spectacular food coming off of their farm.

Also returning to the market this year, Atlanta Fresh!!

Not only does this quirky character bring his amazing yogurt to the table,

this time around, he’s got frozen yogurt and salad dressings!

I’ve made about a billion different dressings using his yogurt, so I’m sure these are divine!

Zocolo is back this year with their homemade salsas

and they’ve added tamales to their menu as well.

The Hidden Springs Honey crew never stopped selling their honey,

as they were at Decatur’s market, amongst others, through the winter.  We grabbed a small Strawberry Honey Bear, and I’ve gone through at least half in just one week.  I think I need a holster for my honey!!  I use it in salad dressings, sauces, glazes, etc., since it’s natural and local.  They also have great gifts to consider.

The crepe station was jam packed, as usual…

creating breakfast for the masses.

King of Pops was selling their frozen treats like hotcakes,

offering many interesting combinations.

And Revolution Donut is still selling their sweets at the market

while they prepare to open their new store in Decatur.

A few more veterans of the market…

Nazifa’s Bakery (which I love so much),

Johnston Family’s Milk Farm,

(in good hands with the little guy at the helm), Grace’s Goodness- with her coconut infused peanut butter- yum,

Crack in the Sidewalk Farmlet (already shut down for the day…we were too late!),

and Fresh soaps and gifts.

I had the opportunity to chat with Marci a bit, and she described how she utilizes local ingredients to make her products.

I’m excited to see the concoctions she’ll drum up this season.

Decimal Place Farm was there too (not sure how I didn’t get Mary’s picture), and I’m chomping at the bit to build entire meals inspired by her cheeses over the next few months.

The Spotted Trotter has been incredibly busy since the final GPFM.

They are rocking out all kinds of new meats like its their job or passion or something!  Their shop is constantly bustling, and their selection is better than ever.  This week, we enjoyed their SWOT- sweet, hot Italian sausage with grilled veggies and Jackson Lowe spinach over roasted polenta.  Smoky, sweet, savory- tasted like summer time.

Alright- we had sausage twice in a week.  Well, we couldn’t resist the Trotter’s Mexican Chorizo,

and we served it simply over a roasted corn and black bean salad with avocado.  Holy crap- I could eat that every single day of my life.

The Spotted Trotter has built a partnership with H & F Bakery, selling their delectable breads at their store.

H & F is in a new spot this year, all the way at the end of the market row. I have no doubt that people would travel great distances to get their hands on the likes of these.

Adam and I shared that one on the left- a jalapeno cheese croissant- for our breakfast.  Uh-maze-ing.  The buttery, flaky layers crumbled all over my face, and I didn’t care one iota.  Look at that crispy sunshine of cheese peeking out of it!!!!

The Little Red Hen folks are back again,

selling high quality meats and eggs

with big, fat smiles on their faces.

These guys were pickin’ right behind a table that offers grassfed beef, strawberries, AND handmade instruments.

Gotta love that this is an arena in which you can share all of your passions at once.

Riverview Farms has a table this year, and they are helping to up the meat ante in addition to selling beautiful veggies.

Oh, and the pizza business was booming right outta the gates!

And there were babies and dads in very cute hats.

Nothing like a peanut with a mustache to remind you to grab a tasty snack.  I am actually not typically fond of boiled peanuts (part of my Northern upbringing that has not changed despite my almost twenty years in the South), but I really do enjoy Lafayette’s jalapeno beef stock peanuts.

Speaking of jalapenos, this jalapeno pesto, made by Hope’s Gardens, is truly delicious.  Just a tad spicy from the jalapenos and the garlic.  Expertly seasoned.  I could have eaten the majority of that jar with a spoon.

The Farm Mobile truck was parked front and center,

with a stellar view of the hub of the market.

Wow!  I think that wraps up the majority of returning vendors, a wonderful, talented, dedicated crew of human beings.  I can’t wait to see all the splendor they will share with us this season.  And I’ll be sure to pass it on to you!

There are quite a few new kids on the block joining the market too, promising to add even more flare to the mix.

These cats make all natural cleansers,

hand salves, laundry soap,

herbal oils,

and even a product that is meant to strengthen eye muscles and improve eyesight.  Woah!

Love is Love Farm at Gaia Gardens had a table full of plant starts, including these Nadia Eggplants.  Glad to see Joe and Judith bringing their goodness to Grant Park.

I’ll have to wait until next week to see what Cosmos Organics is all about, since they were sold out

by the early afternoon.

Le Tre Lune, the farm I wrote about in my last post, is joining the Grant Park community with a positive attitude

and a variety of eye-catching veggies.

And check out these crazy mushrooms!

The gentleman from Atlanta Gourmet Mushroom was more than happy to chat with us about the way he grows his mushrooms on cotton waste, mimicking the growing process in nature.  I am definitely going to need to take some interesting mushrooms back to my kitchen some time soon.

I am excited about this Asian streetfood stand!  They were turning out delicious snacks for $3 a pop.

The Thai Beef Satay with curried peanut sauce was the jam!  The meat was tender and full of flavor, and the radishes and carrots added a cool, crisp component to round out the dish.  Very nice.

This heart tells you exactly how I feel about Beautiful Briny Sea.

Oh my, these sea salts are unreal.  The two lovely people working behind the table, creators of the salts, were warm and friendly and knowledgeable.  They offered us samples of all of their salts by dipping toothpicks in water and then into the little bowls of joy.  Literally, hours after tasting the truffle salt, I was still dreaming about it.

I want to try all of the different flavors in my cooking, selfishly, but I think they would make perfect gifts too!

Oh- and there’s always something at the market each week that seems sort of random and entertaining to me.  This time, it was this chicken-

hanging out, enjoying the beautiful day and laid back vibe of the market, just like the rest of us.

Well, my friends, if you’re not planning your trip to the Grant Park Farmers Market tomorrow morning, you ought to be.  Now you know what the buzz is all about!  It’s been my pleasure to give you the inside scoop (at least from my perspective), and I can’t wait to see what this week’s market adventure will hold.

Happy cooking, eating, and marketing to you.











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