Farmers markets have been springing up all over the country like chanterelle mushrooms. Our nations insatiable demand for artisanal cheeses, heirloom varieties, pesticide free meats and produce has been a boon to small farmers and small batch producers, struggling to maintain their livlihoods within a corporate farming culture. It is all the more remarkable that the Old Salem Cobblestone Farmers Market was ranked in the top 11 Farmers markets in a recent USNews roundup after only 8 weeks of operation. Travel writer Liz Weiss based her criteria on reputation, versatility, online reviews, and overall atmosphere. Set amidst the historic gardens of the early Moravian settlers, this venue is a spectacular destination for a lively morning of shopping.
|Single Brothers Garden Old Salem|
Jane Morgan Smith, of Truffles N.C. hit the national news media when Martha Stewart flew down to North Carolina to film her orchard and proclaim her black Perigord truffles truly deserving of their decadent mouth watering reputation. I was lucky enough to catch her at work in Margaret's kitchen creating truffle salt, butter, honey and fudge for the farmers market. Its fun to see behind the scenes as vendors prepare their wares for market.
As Jane works I ply her with ignorant truffle questions and she chats away about her detour down the truffle path. My favorite part is about Friday, her truffle dog whom she describes as having an excellent work ethic. Friday sniffs through the orchard and sits when he finds the black gold. She trained him by hiding bits of truffle throughout the house, and telling him to: "find the truffles." She is quite proud his excellent vocabulary!
|Moravian Band Plays for opening day|
|The Famous Friday Truffle Hunter|
Meanwhile, Margaret was having a "Pitting Party" so I hung around since I have never seen preserves prepared. More ignorant questions followed, but the Beta Verde jams are super fruity with interesting combinations like the Blackberry Mint Whiskey Jam or Blueberry Basil. The Cherry Lemon preserves du jour had my mind racing with possibilities. I'm a breakfast girl, so I would warm them up and serve them over pancakes.
They haven't invented a way to smell through your computer yet, but I did hang over the kettle repeatedly, with no objections from Lucy from the FDA NC who was on a routine inspection of the certified kitchen. I kept waving her over and believe me, we were like dog Friday in the truffle field. I never quite understood the path from farming, to small batch production to market, but now I have a better idea. The small batches make it much easier to control the flavors and textures.
The vendors at the top juried markets endure rain, sleet, snow, or blight while they create new ways to preserve abundant or meagre harvest to bring to the table. It is a profound means to an end for those of us who are seriously playing with our food.
Plus, farmers markets are fun, educational and social, compared to the business of rolling frantically through the grocery store. In a scary world, there is comfort in discussions with the people that reverently produce your food, as we intermittently pause and chat with friends. We share recipes and admire snoozy babies.
There is music and humor, as we tuck into the shade and nibble our prizes.
The market goes through November, so those of you who are going to High Point should stay through Saturday and shop the seasonal fare.
Traditional Moravian Band Plays for Opening Day
So do not miss the spectacular heritage that is unique to Winston Salem. The furniture buffs in the crowd will not want to miss MESDA (Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts), a museum solely dedicated to the preservation, scholarship, and connoisseurship of southern decorative arts and material culture.