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Pearl Throws a Party for Its Third Anniversary


Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard has been a long-time feature at the Pearl Farmers Market.

Cora Lamar helps a customer at her produce and flower booth.

As revitalization of the Pearl Brewery began several years ago, the owners of the property, Silver Ventures, knew that a farmers market would be a great way of bringing local people to the site while developing a greater sense of community. Three years ago this weekend, the Pearl Farmers Market began with vendors selling everything from fresh vegetables and meats to olive oil, baked goods, lavender products, and flowers.

The lineup of vendors has grown and changed somewhat in that time. Many of the vendors have become old friends over time — Beaune Farms, Biga on the Banks for their breads, Sandy Oaks Olive Orchards, Al’s Gourmet Nuts, Thunder Heart Bison and Peeler Farms chickens, to name a few — and new ones have been added, including Restaurant Gwendolyn, which offers handmade sausages and bacon. The market has also become more at home in its space at the back of the Pearl Brewery, with hundreds of people milling about and many a dog sniffing out the scene.

On Saturday, the spring harvest after the recent rains brought an abundance of items, including breakfast radishes, kale, arugula, cabbage, onions, spring garlic, fennel, green beans, herbs, leeks, brussels sprouts, new potatoes, beets, varieties of squashes, carrots, cucumbers, shallots, peppers, broccoli, mushrooms and more. Fredericksburg peaches were going quickly, as were blackberries and a few strawberries.

Chef John Brand serves marketgoers a savory treat.

Cora Lamar of Oak Hill Farm drew customers with the vivid lavender-colored artichoke blossoms that she had. She also had a few artichokes with her, but they sold quickly, she said.

Artichoke blossoms

For those who bought an artichoke blossom for the first time, she explained that they should not be placed in water or they’ll rot. Instead, the flowering plant, which is in the same family as the thistle, should be set up without water. As the plant begins to dry, the green leaves should turn brown, but the flower would retain its color, Lamar said.

The morning sun drew a line to the handcrafted ice cream booth, where flavors included Strawberry Basil, Salty Caramel, Orange Lavender, Blackberry Lemon and Peach Pecan Amaretto.

Fennel bulbs

The anniversary celebration also brought out some of the city’s chefs who provided samples of dishes that used ingredients you could find in the market.

.Fresh-picked carrots

Chad Carey of the Monterey was there with his new chef, Coleman Foster, to hand out chicken meatballs with a peach kimchi. John Brand of Las Canarias and Ostra offered braised lamb’s neck, while Ocho chef Jason Garcia served a quinoa salad with seasonal vegetables  and a tamarind vinaigrette.

It’s always fun to stop by Melissa Guerra’s Tienda de Cocina in the neighboring Full Goods building on the brewery campus. In addition to the great kitchen items that the store always features, Guerra was offering a hula hoop demonstration and she was spinning right along to the DJ’s funkadelic sounds.

Customers shop the market for the freshest produce.

 

 

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Light Three Candles for the Pearl Farmers Market This Saturday


The Pearl Farmers Market turns three on Saturday.

The Pearl Farmers Market, 200 E. Grayson St., celebrates its third birthday this weekend in style.

The fun at the Pearl begins Friday evening with the final Spring Echale! featuring performances from Chico Trujillo, Ana Tijoux and Bombasta. Showtime is 7 p.m.

Then, on Saturday, Pearl marks its birthday with tastings from San Antonio chefs, giveaways and live music for the whole family. It’s a great way to get some last-minute gifts for Mother’s Day.

“Pearl Farmers Market, where each vendor is located within 150 miles of San Antonio, has become a major source of food and fun for our community. For three years, we have connected with the people that grow our food, raised awareness of seasonal eating and the struggles of farming, and brought people together with local food at the center,” said Tatum Evans, Pearl Farmers Market Manager . “We are thankful to the farmers who plant, grow, raise and harvest our food and thankful to the thousands of shoppers who attend market on Saturdays.”

“Going into our third year at Pearl Farmers Market is just as exciting as the very first day we opened. We see new customers every market day who become regular shoppers every Saturday. Local restaurants, individuals, visitors, and families have become part of the Pearl Farmers Market community,” said Cora Lamar, president of the Pearl Farmers Market Association and owner of Oak Hill Farm. “We at Pearl Farmers Market enjoy bringing San Antonio the best LOCAL produce, meats, eggs, and value added foods every Saturday of the year.”

Among the chefs who’ll be on hand are Jeff Balfour (Citrus), John Brand (Las Canarias and Ostra), Chad Carey (The Monterey), Jason Dady (Tre Tratorria, Bin 555, Two Bros. BBQ), Mark Weaver (Tre Trattoria Alamo Heights), Matt Hanck (Tre Tratorria Downtown), PJ Edwards (Bin 555), Jeff Foresman (The Westin), Jason Garcia (Ocho), Steven McHugh (Luke) and Rob Yoas (RoMo’s Café).

Additionally, MesAlegre returns with a complete sensory experience for food enthusiasts with a fantastic lunch prepared by La Gloria’s Johnny Hernandez. There is availability for 40 reservations, please call 210-434-4388 for more information or to make reservations for MesAlegre.

Market hours are 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

 

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Drought Takes Toll on Local Farmers, Ranchers


Peppers are one food in season -- if the plants have survived the drought.

If you go to one of the many farmers markets in the area this weekend, take a minute to talk with the purveyors about the problems they’re facing because of the drought.

Some, like Bob Mishler of Uncertain Farms in Seguin, have watched acres of plants burn in the merciless sun. He’ll still have his pickled and canned goods for sale at the Legacy on Sunday morning, but the fresh food from his farm is over for a while.

Neither he nor Cora Lamar from Oak Hills Farm in Poteet, who is at the Pearl Farmers Market on Saturdays, have any idea when to start fall planting, either, because of having to water the seeds. Many farmers usually begin their fall crops within the next few weeks, but no break in the weather could mean a lean fall for lovers of fresh food.

While not selling their wares at the farmers markets, wine grape growers and vintners are feeling the effects of the weather, too. For them, the news isn’t all bad, according to Becker Vineyards.They started their harvest early this year, says spokeswoman Nichole Bendele.

“Although we have a drip irrigation system in place, we are in a drought. We started the grape harvest about two weeks early, and will probably be finished by the end of August instead of the second or third week of September,” she says.  Besides Stonewall, we have another vineyard in Ballinger, and a third in Mason and also purchase grapes from growers in the Texas High Plains and West Texas areas.  Our winemaker, Russell Smith, says, that because of the drought the overall quantity is down, but because the grape clusters have such small berries, the wines of 2011 will be deliciously intense.”

Farmers and winegrowers aren’t the only ones hurting. Linda Perez of L&M Grass-fed Beef says she’s been feeding her cattle hay for weeks now because the grass is dead, and the hay is not in abundant supply.

Perez, who is also at the Pearl on Saturdays, recently posted the following on Facebook: “Bought the most beautiful hay imaginable today, but it cost me: $65 in gas, 6 hours driving time, one blow out tire to replace, not to mention the price of the hay and the incredible heat to endure (had to have the heater on high in the truck to keep the engine from over-heating!). But you should have seen the look on the faces of the cows and calves when they finally got to taste it. Priceless.”

The cattle aren’t quite so carefree these days because sometimes she’s able to buy only enough hay for four days.

Of course, food doesn’t just magically land on the table because it’s mealtime. We’re learning that this summer the hard way.

 

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