After a long, cold, and snowy winter, yesterday was the eagerly awaited opening day of Lexington Farmers' Market. It seemed like an eternity since the vendors sold their last end of season pawpaws, gourds, and winter squash before closing shop for the winter.
Although gloomy and overcast yesterday morning, the atmosphere at the market was upbeat and lively. Everyone was simply happy to be there. Vendors, shoppers, musicians, babies, and dogs all embraced opening day knowing there was a fabulous growing season ahead. The farmers' market was back in business. Thank God.
There was an abundance of gorgeous early cool weather lettuces, herbs, tomato plants, and flowers. A few vendors offered out-of-state selections of tomatoes, corn, cabbages, yellow squash and strawberries. Although locally out of season, they seemed right at home nestled in thier wooden baskets.
We usually make a couple of rounds through the market before actually purchasing anything. Not yesterday. We were caught up in the excitement of being there, surrounded by fresh lush greenery.
We started our trek down the center aisle of the pavillion. It was early. Early enough to score a dozen brown organic eggs from Elmwood Stock Farm before they ran out. They always run out. Next to Elmwood Stock, a Boyle County farm offered dew dripping red and green leaf lettuces, still with their tiny root ends attatched and neatly wrapped in bundles.
We stumbled across a tasting of Sapori d' Italia goat cheese. Tiny nibbles of Agri alle Erbe, young cold-aged fresh goat cheese, were topped with smoked paprika, red pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. They were made yesterday morning and were very fresh, tangy, and creamy. We bought two.
I was drawn to a Mercer County vendor selling an interesting collection of herbs. Although dwarfed by gigantic leaves of cabbage and brocccoli plants, his herbs rocked. The most intriguing was "Salad Herb", a delicate whisper of an herb that "the herb man" said tastes like cucumber. I'm going back next Saturday to snag a few of those before they disapear for the season.
We sampled beer cheese and chocolate truffles before stopping by Quarles Quality Beef from Waddy, Kentucky. After tasting their beer-steamed brats, we picked up a package of brats, a pound of short ribs, corn relish, and jam cake. Weird combination. They had it covered, for sure.
As we strolled around the back side of the market munching on chocolate croissants from Sunrise Bakery, I stopped dead in my tracks when I spotted huge Bracken County oyster mushrooms protruding from tiny baskets. They were colossal and beautiful. They left me weak. I left with one as big as my head.
The market wasn't crowded. Even with musicians and barking dogs, it was pleasantly quiet and calm. Not for long, though. When the big time harvests start rolling in, the market will explode.